Walking in Barolo: My Favorite Way to Experience Fall in Italy

walking in barolo piedmont

Image © Italian Concierge

If you’ve seen the flyer for our upcoming Puglia and Basilicata tour in May 2014, you know that in addition to custom travel planning, the Italian Concierge also runs luxury walking tours.

With fall and la vendemmia (the harvest), nearly upon us, I’ve been reminiscing about visiting my favorite wineries in Italy.

One of the best ways to do that is to walk through Piedmont, stopping in castles for lunch, visiting the wine archives, and tasting the other rich bounties of Piedmont’s famous soil, like truffles.

The Vendemmia


visiting a barolo winery

Image © Italian Concierge

When you walk through wine country in the fall, you witness the height of activity in the region’s vineyards: the harvest. It’s an all hands effort. Grapes must come off the vines as quickly and as carefully as possible.

In Italy, scheduling the harvest is a delicate balance. Too early, and the grapes have not reached their full maturity. Too late, and they may be ruined by rain and mold. With the recent summer heat waves, too much time in the sun is also a concern. Last year, the harvest happened a full month earlier than usual.

Wines, particularly those with designations like DOC or DOCG, must fall within a preset alcohol by volume range. Especially hot summers can make the grapes extra sweet, which translates to extra alcohol.

Wines to Taste in Piedmont


tasting wine in barolo piedmont

Image © Italian Concierge

One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the wines of a region and make great purchases to bring home is the visit the collectives, consortiums, and wine archives.

Italian winemakers organize into groups that run central wine stores in the main towns and villages of their wine-producing area. At these tasting rooms, you can sample and contrast wines from different wineries with the guidance of a local expert who can navigate you toward the right wines for you.

Once you’ve found some favorites, you can pick up bottles (which the store can usually arrange shipping for) at close to winery prices or get information on how to visit your favorite winery on your own.

My favorite is the Cantina Sociale dei Vini delle Langhe, the Langhe wine area cooperative. When I take groups on wine walking tours in Piedmont, this is one of our first stops.

We visit the production area and famous Prunotto vineyeard, named for a previous owner, and wind up the afternoon with a tasting. Over the last century it’s passed ownership from one prestigious wine maker to another, and now Tuscan winery Antinori heads the operation.

My Favorite Piedmont Walks


sentieri langa barolo

Image © Italian Concierge

Piedmont is crisscrossed with countless trekking routes. The hilltown La Morra alone has seven sentieri (Italian marked walking paths) of different difficulties radiating down its slopes.

No matter where you begin or what direction you set out in, you’ll wander through picture-perfect vineyards to medieval towns where you can taste the fruits of previous years' harvests.

Some of my favorite routes are:

    • from the hilltown La Morra, follow to trail to Barolo and continue uphill to Monforte D’Alba

 

    • from Moneforte d’Alba, follow the trail towards the next hilltop village, Serralunga d’Alba, passing the Falletti Castle

 

    • from Nieve in the Langhe, walk through the Nebbiolo vineyards to Barbaresco



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