Follow in the Footsteps of Famous Winemakers – 5 Places to Truly Experience the Wine Culture


Whether you are a wine expert or an enthusiast or an aspirant, there is no greater pleasure than truly experiencing wines in the company of those who understand the terroir. From meeting winemakers to observing legendary vintages in the cellar, we list a few wineries worth the grape juice

By: Isabelle Kellogg

Posted on: November 17, 2021

Imagine for a moment that your family owns a famous winery and that you grew up surrounded by the annual cycle of grape growing and bottling. For anyone with an interest in wine and for those among us who don’t have a viniculture lineage, wineries have done extensive renovations during the pandemic and have re-opened their tasting rooms and expanded their hospitality programs to include tastings of vintage wines with a winemaker, picnics in the vineyards and even offer overnight accommodation. It’s a heartfelt attempt at offering you that life experience of living with the vines. 

Marchesi de Frescobaldi vineyards

The vineyards of Marchesi de Frescobaldi


For aspiring wine connoisseurs and professionals who crave opportunities to meet world renowned winery owners and their winemakers, these are a few suggestions which provide a unique perspective on wine making and collecting. 

Let’s start with Marchesi de Frescobaldi. The wines produced under the Frescobaldi coat of arms are the heart and soul of Italy’s Chianti Classico wines made with Sangiovese and Chardonnay grape varieties which are grown in the region of Tuscany across their seven estates. The winemaking family has bragging rights back to Italy’s Renaissance period. In 1308, the family began making wine at Tenuta de Castigliona near Florence. By the 1400s, sculptor-painter Donatello, Pope Martin V and King Henry VIII were among the celebrities enjoying Frescobaldi wines. But even earlier, Castello di Nipozzano - a Frescobaldi property - was growing grapes at its estate with a castle in 1000.

Tenuta CastelGiocondo Hotel

Tenuta CastelGiocondo hotel


In the heart of Chianti Rufina, it overlooks the Arno River and its grape varieties read like a wine educator’s tasting book: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot. For a truly unique experience of the essence of Tuscany, a mere 20 miles from Florence, book a wine tasting in the family’s private underground cellar with one of the family members for an unforgettable introduction to these heraldic wines and also book a stay at the Tenuta CastelGiocondo hotel.

By the 1400s, sculptor-painter Donatello, Pope Martin V and King Henry VIII were among the celebrities enjoying Frescobaldi wines. 

Tenuta Luce

Not one to rest on its grape varietals, the Frescobaldi family forged a wine family-to-wine-family liaison with the Luce estate in Montalcino in 1993 to produce a Super Tuscan wine. Luce is the flagship wine resulting from the partnership between Napa Valley legend Robert Mondavi and Vittorio Frescobaldi. These two iconic wine legends decided to combine forces to make an innovative New World wine in an Old World setting. Luce, or “light”, is a powerful, bold blend of Sangiovese and Merlot grapes with a velvety mouthfeel and a deep, complex flavor profile from vanilla and cocoa to a fresh cigar box. Tenuta Luce is a wonderful place to visit for lunch for a farm-to-table menu cooked by a dedicated chef and an overnight stay. 

Marques de Riscal wine

A Marques de Riscal Rioja with its signature golden mesh


Spain also boasts many winemaking family legends. One of the oldest, Marqués de Riscal, started planting grapes in 1858. Today, more than 150 years later, Marqués de Riscal continues to hold its place as one of Spain’s most famous wines. It is regarded as a benchmark for Rioja red wines from as far as back as 1862 when the first Rioja was bottled and sold. The winery has inspired consistent high quality and celebrated literary references over the years, including from Ernest Hemingway and Salvador Dalí. Look for the bottles wrapped in metallic gold mesh, used to avoid falsifications. 

Inaugurated in 2006, the city includes a hotel designed by architect Frank Gehry and a Spanish chateau that includes the original bodega (1860) where the wine treasures of Marqués de Riscal are preserved in a special cellar. 

Marques de Riscal hotel

The stupendous Marques de Riscal luxury hotel


And now for the fun part. The Marqués de Riscal City of Wine, located in Elciego (Álava), offers the experience of exploring the history of the bodega since its foundation in 1858 to the modern day, plus a chance to enjoy their wines by using all five senses. Inaugurated in 2006, the city includes a hotel designed by architect Frank Gehry and a Spanish chateau that includes the original bodega (1860) where the wine treasures of Marqués de Riscal are preserved in a special cellar. Hotel Marqués de Riscal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, designed by the legendary Mr. Gehry, is on the premises for those who want the ultimate wine experience. From Caudalie’s vinotherapy spa to the fine dining restaurant under the watchful eye of the top Riojan chef, Francis Paniego, the hotel knows how to truly pamper the senses. Cheers!  

Taub Family Vineyards

Taub Family Vineyards


California may lack the heraldic lineage of some of Europe’s legendary wineries, but has some hefty wine connections among its family-owned wineries. Taub Family Vineyards has wide swaths of appellations in Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino. The family started in the spirits business right after prohibition, then began distributing wine and spirits for several decades. They opened their import operation in 1977, and began their own domestic wine production nearly 10 years ago. Today, it’s a father and son affair with Marc and Jake Taub producing award-winning wines under the labels of Saracina (originally founded by the Fetzer family, another winemaking pioneer), Taub Family Vineyards and Au Contraire. Each wine embodies a pure expression of its respective AVA (American Viticultural Area) and vineyard microsite. Tasting opportunities abound and can be curated to your specific tastes. 

Samuele Sebastiani emigrated from the Tuscany region of Italy and started Sebastiani at the turn of the 1900s. After decades of continued success, the winery was purchased by Bill Foley in 2008 whose vision continues to enhance wine quality and raise the winery’s image through lowered production, restricted yield, new barrels and winemaking equipment and additional vineyards to guarantee consistent and superior fruit sourcing. Today, the winery is making the finest wines with a long history of award-winning wines, but with an emphasis on single-vineyard and sub-appellation wines. A top-of-the-line wine experience is to learn the rich history of Sebastiani Winery, through its world-famous estate cabernet sauvignon, Cherryblock, their most expensive wine, in a half day tasting of five signature Cherryblock wines in a comfy outdoor VIP member lounge. 

Sebastiani Cherryblock vineyards

Sebastiani's Cherryblock vineyards


A top-of-the-line wine experience is to learn the rich history of Sebastiani Winery, through...Cherryblock, their most expensive wine, in a half day tasting of five signature Cherryblock wines in a comfy outdoor VIP member lounge. 

For those of you who are keen on collecting wines, Benchmark Wine Group was developed a few years ago to help collectors of all levels acquire a collection of premium wines. It’s not unusual to find a wine from 1875 in their cellar! A team of trained cellar experts, with a collective 30 years in the industry, who understand the value of a well-groomed cellar, will curate an instantaneous collection sourced from an unparalleled stock of fine and rare wine (like the ones mentioned above) with investment in mind. Each curated experience is guaranteed to be expertly selected and stocked full of envy-worthy cellar pieces at an exclusive rate for members so you can bring that winemaker experience into your home.

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