Discover the Chianti Wine Regions

When I first started really getting into wine, I remember always being very intrigued by Chianti. And with that bulbous bottle and straw basket it traditionally comes in, it’s hard not to be intrigued. When I finally decided to pick up a bottle of my own, I quickly came to really love the varietal.

Where Does Chianti Come From?

Chianti really is a special wine quite unlike any other. The region of Chianti is a tiny area in the heart of Tuscany between Siena and Florence and overlooks the Elsa Valley. The land is fertile with olive groves, green forests, and those delicious grapes just waiting to be picked off the vine and smashed into Chianti wine.

For many years, Italians have enjoyed the prestige of being recognized for having the largest harvest of grapes and the finest vintages of wine in the Mediterranean. Present day farmers have the Phoenicians to thank for bringing vines to the area. They named the area, ‘Oenotria’, the ‘land of wine.’ The ripe fields, combined with the sun and Tuscan air led many others to this area to cultivate the grapes including, the Greeks, Etruscans, and Roman. In many cases, these cultures brought their own vines to mingle with the originals.

Chianti’s Rise in Popularity

While the earliest known record of Chianti wine dates back to the 13th century, it wasn’t until in the late 1960’s that Chianti started its journey to global popularity. The land of the Chianti area was in a down cycle. Visionaries, seeing the obvious advantages of such beautiful countryside and fertile soil, bought the land rebuilt the vineyards to become some of the most credited vines in the world.

What makes the land unique in the area is the climate of the region. The warmth which is constant, lasts much of the year with little rain fall. The soil is dry and full of stones infused with limestone providing many nutrients and minerals for the grapes. In addition, the clever vintners of the area only allow a limited amount of irrigation through the fields; therefore the vines have to delve deep into the ground to acquire water and nutrients.

The Italian government has its own classification for wine making with specific requirements for growing and making the wine. DOCG, which stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, and is similar to the French AOC. These government standards control the techniques from each of the eight regions of Chianti, keeping the regions wine making unique. The regions of Chianti are Chianti Classico, Colli Arentini, Colli Fiorentini, Coli Senesi, Colli Pisane, Montalbano, Rufina, and Montispertoli.

Chianti Classico is the most widely known wine of the region, not only for its name, but also for the superb quality. This wine comes from the vines species called vitis vinifera, which is the starting point for 99% of the wines in the world. Of this vine, Italy grows more than 100 official varieties.

The Grapes of Chianti Wine

In the Chianti region, which makes up roughly 25,000 acres, two thirds of the land is given to the production of the Chianti Classico, and uses at least 80% of the Sangiovese grape. In the other 20% of the region other wines are made using Sangiovese blended with Canaiolo and Colorino. For the white wines a Trebbiano or Malvasia are used. Again, the government controls the yields to nine tons in order to maintain a premium wine.

The lush red wine of the Chianti that pours into a glass like pooling velvet grows darker when aged. The flavors that wash across the tongue are dry, slightly tannic, with an intense aroma, sometimes hinting of violet. The vintners have no requirements mandated by the government regarding the aging process, but most use aged oak casks for their most savory bottles of wine called Riserva wines.

Like the Romans, the dry red has stormed the land, and today is well known all around the world. Yet it is the humble vintner creating this amazing wine that has the wine world at their feet. Today, when I’m drinking wine on any special occasion, you can usually find me enjoying a glass of my favorite dry Italian red, Chianti.


Planning a Perfect Napa Wine Tour

For several years now, my cousin and I have been thinking about taking a trip up to Napa. When I flew out to visit just a few weeks ago, found ourselves talking about it once again and finally decided we just needed to pick a date and do it. So late this summer, we’ll be headed up to Napa to try out some new wines and have a good time. Naturally, our upcoming trip got me thinking of what we can do to really make the most of our trip. Here are a few things I came up with to help you have a great time in Napa if you’re headed up there this summer.

1. Plan on Visiting 3-5 Wineries at Most.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re idea of a Napa vacation is to visit as many winery’s as possible, you may want to rethink that. Napa is the perfect place to relax and enjoy yourself. My advice is not to spoil that and choose about 3-5 wineries to visit. Many are in walking distance of each other so choose a few near each other and you can’t go wrong. In the event you do want to visit a winery a little ways away and you don’t have a designated driver, Uber and Lyft both operate in Napa and Sonoma.

2. Make Reservations.

Napa gets more than 3 million visitors a year, so make sure you make hotel reservations before-hand. The last think you want to do is end up staying an hour away and trying to commute to and from after wine tasting. Plan smart and get a room before hand. If you know want to tour a specific winery, it’s a good idea to make reservations ahead of time. Making sure you’ve got your plans set can help you avoid unnecessary hassles during your trip. Keep in mind that traffic in Napa can be a nightmare too and plan accordingly.

3. Pack a Lunch and plenty of water!

When I last went to Napa, I took a long road-trip up from Arizona. So we already had a cooler full of water and food in the car. But in the event that you’re flying in, it’s a good idea to have a plan to eat. Many wineries will have beautiful picnic areas. Going to the grocery store before hand and buying some bread and cheese will not only ensure you don’t go hungry but it will probably save you money on food too. Yes many wineries may have food with the wine tastings but it may not always be much and having some of your own will ensure you are prepared.

4. Pick Wineries Near Your Hotel.

When it comes to choosing wineries, it’s a good idea not to stray too far from your hotel. This will make your life so much easer and help you avoid either having to drive too far, or paying too much for an Uber or Lyft. With that in mind, take a look at wineries when you’re booking your room. If there are any that you know you want to visit, try to get a hotel nearby.

Good luck on your trip to Napa! I will definitely be writing plenty about my trip this summer with my cousin (perhaps a follow up on how well I followed my own advice). If you are visiting wine country or even a winery close to your home-town, consider writing about your experience and contributing to our wine blog. Click here for more details.




Your Favorite Cab is from Arizona!?

When you think of wine, Arizona is far from the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, unless you’ve traveled to visit an Arizona winery there is a good chance you’ve never even tasted any. Even at grocery stores in the area, it’s not all that easy to find unless you know where to look. I’ve lived here for over 20 years and only just had my first taste of Arizona wine quite recently. 

My family was in town from Japan and we ended up taking a road trip up to Sedona so they could see the sites. After hiking up Cathedral Rock and visiting Slide Rock State Park, we took to the city to spend our last few hours before heading back to the valley. Since we were all hungry after our day of hiking, we found the perfect restaurant that set the mood of Sedona, the Cowboy ClubI’m always looking to try new foods and so we ordered rattlesnake as an appetizer and for my main course, I had buffalo with mashed sweet potatoes and what may have been the best asparagus I’ve ever had. By now you’re probably wondering, “What about the wine?” Well. . .I was very tempted to order wine with dinner, but I opted not to. As it turns out, that was a decision I would not end up regretting.

After we finished dinner, we started moseying around Sedona. The first place we ended up was the shop right next door to the Cowboy Club, Made in Arizona. As soon as I walked in and saw the wine tasting counter, I was immediately glad I hadn’t decided to order wine with my dinner.  Not knowing what to expect, I stepped up to the counter and started my first experience with Arizona wine. I tried several wines and there were two in particular that really stuck out to me. The first was the Kokopelli Chardonnay. But the one that really blew me away was the cabernet sauvignon from Freitas Vineyards.

Now when it comes to a good cab, I’m accustomed to the big bold cabs out of Napa. I do enjoy them, especially with steak, but at times I think the boldness can be a little much. When I took a taste of the Freitas cab, I was expecting that familiar bold cab flavor. But what I got was a complete surprise. It was still very much a cab, but without being so in-your-face. For me, it is the perfect balance.

Now the bad news is that there are only a few select places you can buy this wine, even here in the valley where select stores stock local wine I’ve found it impossible to find. While writing this article, I naturally had to find out and it turns out it is available at a few select stores in Sedona, AZ (a great place for a nice weekend getaway) or you can order it from Vino Di Sedona, their official tasting room. When you do get your hands on a bottle, you will definitely be glad you did.


Contribute to Our Wine Blog

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If you would like to contribute to our blog, just shoot me an email at with your submission or any questions you may have. I look forward to hearing from you.


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