Chiara & Antonio & Doumina
From Piemonte to Tuscany to Amalfis Coast and Venice, plus newly added Spain and Portugal...we are enjoying life and making fantastic discoveries...please email email@example.com for detailed itineraries and all information on our food and wine tours in 2010. Here is a tour that will wet your taste buds!
Join Monica & Mark in Piemonte e Tuscany
8 day Italian Food & Wine Tour
October 27-November 3, 2010
We take wining, dining and traveling to extraordinary levels!
Monica & Mark partner with Doumina Whyman, The Enthusiastic Traveler, to take 18 people on a fabulous 7 night, 8 day gourmet food & wine tour of Piemonte & Tuscany
You will encounter the local people, culture, food, wine and traditions of these amazing regions as no other visitor can.
Doumina & Monica created a food and wine tour that includes exclusive meals, hands-on cooking classes, famous art, historic towns, historic churches, ancient ruins, Small Vineyard’s wineries, and so much more.
If you love food and wine, and you want to experience Italy, rather than to simply visit there, this is the trip for you. Contact Monica for more information and to get your name on the list for this amazing trip.
The Trip in 2010: October 27-November 3
We will enjoy the best culinary dishes in both of these regions as well as wines from Small Vineyard Estates. These are small production wines that are difficult to find, and we have a few of them here for you to taste in the cafe.
You will be educated first hand by the winemakers themselves, who take us under their wings, invite us into their homes and farms, and even cook for us!
This is a hand-made, intimate tour for food and wine lovers, and there is so much more to it than that!
Experience beautiful cities and hill-towns with fantastic fun guides who live in, and love, these regions. Spend the days with the local farmers pressing olives in an old mill, seeing the livestock that Tuscany is famous for, visiting family owned vineyard estates, tasting the regional cuisines and learning a little bit about the history and culture in these regions.
Journey Experiences: Details & Highlights:
Of Course Wine & Grappa Tastings!
Fun and Tasty Cooking Classes
Quality Olive Oil Tasting
Very Unique Balsamic Vinegar Tasting
Experience the famous Pecorino Cheese
Wonderful Chocolate Tasting
A tour of Slow Food University and the Wine Bank
Enjoy the most authentic meals in intimate restaurants and family homes, where you will be honored to feel like the most important of guests!
Enjoy tasting and touring our Small Vineyard Estates, and sit down to meals with our winemakers
Learn how to hand-make pasta and cheese
Be a part of an olive oil pressing with the local farmers
Tour such cities as Alba, Neive, Asti, Chianti, Cortona, & Pienza
Take great advantage of our connections to Experience things that other tourists can only dream of....
Relax, enjoy, and let us guide you on this special journey.
3 nights in Neive; 4 nights in Cortona
Travel with a small group for a more intimate experience - limited to 18 people
All breakfasts and one Big Feast everyday with wine, of course!
Enjoy education through experience when it comes to the importance of Fabulous food, excellent wine, local customs and cultures, and be changed for the better, forever!
Request an itinerary and policies today!
18 travelers - 2995.00 per person (so tell your friends!)
15 travelers - 3175.00 per person
10 travelers - 3440.00 per person
In the unlikely event that some outings may change, replacement outings will be of equal quality.
*Everything listed in the itinerary while we are with Doumina
*Every breakfast and at least one main meal, every day, as well as the many foods involved in the various tastings.
*Olive oil tasting
*Doumina’s priceless expertise and carefully nurtured relationships
*Precious company and entertainment provided by the people of Italy, who will stay in your hearts and minds forever.
Does not include:
*Transportation to Alba
*Transportation from Cortona
*Single Supplement Fee (If requested, 675.00. Otherwise you may be placed in a shared space. Ask for details)
*Occasional supplemental meals
*Travel for personal errands/meals/shopping while on the tour.
Doumina can help arrange:
*All other transportation
*Ideas for other destinations
*A package that would include round trip airfare from here to Roma and 2 nights accommodations and guided tours in Roma, with group pricing based on how many of us want to add this on.
Traveling to Italy?Small Vineyards now offers intimate tours of our favorite family estates. A great chance to taste the wine, savor the food, and kick some dirt.
new discoveries that a normal tourist could only dream of!
Today's Guest Blooger is Amanda Flaker of Goodness Magazine.
It all began when Josh Hanson and his wife, Tiea, were strolling along a cobblestone street among the ancient walls and medieval towers of the hill town Radda in Chianti Classico. Passing by an old tavern, they noticed a hand-written sign in the window that read, “Wine Tours.”Curious, the Hansons stepped inside. Located in a small office above the tavern sat Lorenzo Gatteschi of Podere Ciona winery. Lorenzo was offering tours of the local wine estates in Chianti, yet unlike most tourist excursions along the grapevines of Tuscany, Lorenzo concentrated on introducing his customers to small, local producers that were primarily sold in Chianti.
After a day of wine-tasting through the village, Gatteschi escorted the Hansons to his own wine estate in Giaole, located high on a hill that overlooked the old castles in the vast Tuscan countryside. His mother, renowned cooking instructor of “Tutti a Tavola,” prepared a classic Toscana dinner and, in typical Italian fashion, they ate and drank long into the night.Impressed by the quality, price and seductive appeal of the wine he had encountered that day, Josh asked Lorenzo two questions: “Why are these wines so good?” and “Why can’t I get them in the States?” To which Gatteschi replied, “It’s simple; we are too small.”
That night, over a bottle of Gatteschi’s Chianti Classico Riserva, the idea for Small Vineyards was born. Partnering with Lorenzo’s contacts of small Italian producers, Josh arranged direct importing of these tiny estate wines. Six months later a palatte of wine arrived on his doorstep.Today Small Vineyards is one of the fastest-growing importers of Italian wines in the country. And the goal of the company has remained the same since day one: import the best, artesian, family-owned, micro-producers available and show America what Italian passion for regional style is all about.
Small Vineyards maintains tough rating criteria that each producer must adhere to before a wine is considered for their portfolio. First, the estate must be in the smallest 10% of their region (though many of the producers are even smaller). Second, every grape must be hand-picked to ensure no overripe or green grapes fall into the mix and upset the balance.Without exception, the wines must be single-estate; many are crafted from single vineyards. In simple terms, this means that no fruit is purchased, but comes directly from the producer’s own estate. Third, each estate must use earth-friendly, sustainable farming techniques. No pesticides, fertilizers or irrigation are allowed. And, most importantly, Small Vineyards looks for producers who are true artists and have no desire to trade their authentic lifestyle for mechanical, corporate industry.
Most of these standards are nothing new to Italians. Generally speaking, Italian pride for regional expression and authenticity, whether through food, art or wine, is an essential ingredient in all of their productions. In fact, when Italian winemakers hear Americans raving about new “sustainable” farming techniques that exclude the use of pesticides, they simple chuckle and say, “What you call organic, we call ‘two thousand years of common sense’.”Small Vineyards understands that part of the magic of good wine is the story behind the artists who created it. To bridge the gap between winemaker and buyer, each bottle of wine that Small Vineyards imports includes a picture of the winemaker, along with a brief history of the estate or fun facts about the winemaker.
“The producers range from simple, salt-of-the-earth farmers to castle-dwelling aristocrats, but the quality and standards remain the same for everyone,” says Tom Kelly, partner and wine educator at Small Vineyards. Naturally, the company understands that creating a sense of place is important to fully appreciate these hand-crafted gems.The wines at Small Vineyards have one of two classifications indicated on each bottle: Grande Estate or Discovery. Grande Estate means wine from a larger estate. The quality standards remain the same for all wines, but Grande Estate wines allow the company to import innovative, high-quality wines at slightly higher quantities. Discovery wines are smaller, less-known Italian wines.
Why Italy? Although Small Vineyards has recently opened up territory in both Portugal and Spain, their primary focus has always been Italy. The wines are unique for many reasons: Italy boasts close to 130 family clones of grapes and over 2000 different grape varietals. The entire country is so well suited for growing grapes that virtually every corner of Italy hosts a wine region.The weather from the top of the boot to the bottom is forever shifting, making for a multitude of micro-climates unlike any other country. But, most importantly, Italians are devoted to their region. This means that the winemakers Small Vineyards works with take tremendous pride in not only showcasing their best wines, but also in expressing their unique wine region.
The company has several key players who help maintain dedication to quality. Antonio Sanquineti has been with Small Vineyards since its origins. Tom Kelly refers to him as “the heartbeat of the company.” In addition to his contribution as a winemaker in the Small Vineyards’ portfolio, Antonio, along with Josh Hanson, helps maintain relationships with other producers and is a co-detective with Josh on the continual hunt for new wines.Co-founders, Doug Fugate and Kay Syrrist head-up the national sales team and remain the company’s CFOs while, locally in Portland, Tom Kelly, another founder and long-time friend of Hanson, focuses his energy on wine education, both at a national and street level. He pours the wine at local shops and is pleased to share the stories behind each bottle.
Small Vineyards is involved with every aspect of the importing process, ensuring the quality every consumer receives for their money. In order to manage the quality of every bottle of wine, Small Vineyards created a system of insurance called “Tappo a Tappo,” which means “Cork to Cork.” This quality-control system ensures that, from the moment the producers put a cork in a bottle until the time a consumer buys it, every aspect of the process is carefully managed to guarantee quality and satisfaction. The process ranges from making sure the wine is stored and shipped in temperature-controlled units to encouraging the winemakers to use user-friendly labels that are understandable in the U.S. market.With dedication to small, artesian, hand-crafted wines, Small Vineyards is becoming a driving force in the ever-changing industry. The standards of Small Vineyards have raised the bar for other companies to import quality over quantity and keep the art and pleasure of well-crafted vino alive.
Amanda Flaker works in the wine industry. She is often found in coffee shop nooks, reading poetry and studying Italian.
My recent trip to Italy was largely restricted to Roma, which is located in the region of Lazio. The professor shepherding my small group of students suggested we taste mostly Lazio wines, preaching that the difference between a tourist and a traveler is an interest in what their immediate surroundings offer. Tourists would insist on only trying wines from the regions their guide book declared to be the best, while true travelers would immerse themselves in the wines from Lazio, suppressing the urge to drink strictly those from Toscana and Piemonte. Tourist is a detestable name anywhere, and so to avoid being labeled one I stuck with Lazio. They tasted fantastic to my young palate, but nothing like the portfolio Small Vineyards presented yesterday.
The people at Small Vineyards seemed just as focused on presenting the incredible histories behind each estate as they did on selling cases of wine. Each bottle had a story behind it, and more than a couple of them are worth telling here. From wild Porsche rides through Tuscany to a chauvinistic father proven wrong, these Italian winemakers have a past in keeping with the volatile history of their country.
Let’s start with the maker of the best Pinot Grigio I have ever tasted. Edi Simcic comes from a family that has experienced adversity above and beyond the usual trouble of dealing with vineyard overheads. At the end of WWII the Simcic lands were part of the division of Slovenia from Italy, leaving Edi on the Slovenian side without his girlfriend – who was a mere 500 yards away in Italy, but across a hotly contested boarder. The communist government eventually seized the rights to a large portion of the family’s grapes, crippling their ability to produce fine wines. Eventually Edi and his son Aleks were able to get the vineyard back on track after the fall of the Iron Curtain, producing what many critics call the best wines in Slovenia.
The next anecdote involved a man known as ‘Il Maestro’ by both fans and colleagues, Antonio Sanguineti. A member of the small vineyards team had the privilege (or punishment, depending on your sense of adventure) of taking a ride across Northern Italy with Il Maestro. Italy is scary enough when you are driving yourself, but launching through country roads with a seemingly maniacal winemaker could be considered the quickest way to meet your maker. Luckily the Small Vineyards employee survived and was able to relate what it felt like to see Sanguineti smoke a cigar and yell into his phone over the aria blasting from his speakers – all the while his car topping 200 km/hr. There was a lot of nervous laughter, then we tasted the wine.My favorite Sanguineti -Wine: Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Varietals: 100% Sangiovese Grosso
Tasting Notes – They say smell is the best memory sense; this wine brought me back to a small restaurant in Roma Antica where I sat with my professor and enjoyed a Tuscan Sangiovese wine – except Sanguineti’s was unspeakably better. In fact, all I heard were groans and “ahhs” from satisfied wine merchants in the room. Perfectly balanced, the Brunello is silky smooth and “amazingly approachable” after 42 months in French Oak Barrique.
The tasting came to a close with a Moscato D’Asti from Tre Donne (3 women). Daniela, Rosanna and Antonella Lequio are the three daughters of Alessandro Lequio, a winemaker from Piemonte. Alessandro’s wife said her husband was so disappointed in his lack of a male heir, he cried for half an hour when the youngest daughter was born. Determined to prove their father’s gender prejudices wrong, the girls all became enologists and suggested they take over the family business. Alessandro, doubting their ability to produce a great wine, agreed to hand over the family estate if they could pass his gauntlet of tests, the final one being the production of a wine to be judged by their father. To his surprise, the girls, now women, produced a fantastic wine – and a portfolio that would result in more awards than Alessandro himself had ever won.
My thanks to the people of Small Vineyards for a tasty and informative event!
- Matt Fender
Writer: Thomas E. Kelly, Northwest Ambassador, National Educator