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Chris Cooper

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Tourist Friendly Wineries Around Alba

by Chris Cooper » Tue Sep 02, 2014 4:54 pm

I will be in Alba, Italy for a week in November (unfortunately missing the truffle festival) and wondered if anyone can recommend some wineries in the Barbaresco and/or Barolo regions that are worth visiting and that are welcoming to tourists. I realize I generally have to call first to make an appointment. Thanks.
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John S

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Re: Tourist Friendly Wineries Around Alba

by John S » Tue Sep 02, 2014 8:42 pm

As I recall, there really aren't any 'tourist friendly' wineries in the whole region, if you mean places you can just drop in or that have any tourist attractions. Prod del Barbaresco is open and you are able to pop in there, right in the heart of the village of Barbaresco (although an appointment is still useful). There is also a small cantina in the village with wines to taste and buy. That might be your best bet, and it's relatively close to Alba. There's buses that go regularly if you don't have a car.

I'd recommend either contacting wineries before you go to make appointments or, if you are staying in a place that has good contacts (many rural places do), you could ask them to book visits as well. The latter method worked well for me on a couple of trips. Although staying in Alba itself could be an issue, as perhaps they wouldn't have as much contact with wineries??

The visits there are quite different from US wineries, in that there isn't a cellar door/tasting room per se, and you will spend at least a hour, often more, at each winery. Two or maybe three visits a day are the norm, as most are closed at the long lunch period.

I hope you get a chance to wander off to the many lovely villages in the area, and eat in the many amazing restaurants in the region. There's certainly great food in Alba too, and don't miss dropping by wine bars in the late afternoon for some complimentary nibbles and wines by the glass!
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Re: Tourist Friendly Wineries Around Alba

by Bruce K » Wed Sep 03, 2014 11:53 am

My wife and I stayed in Alba for four days in December 2012 -- a fantastic place to visit. Yes, you do need to call in advance before visiting wineries, and it helps to know Italian (or have someone call on your behalf who does). These are the wineries we visited:
** Produttori del Barbaresco in Barbaresco -- the biggest winery we went to, fantastic co-op with great wines to taste (and buy) and very interesting to learn how the co-op was founded, how it operates, etc.
** Silvio Giamello (La Licenziana) in Barbaresco -- visited because he'd been recommended as an under-the-radar but great producer. Located in an unmarked small farmhouse/compound. I felt guilty taking up his and his wife's time with our tasting because they really are a very tiny family-run operation, but it was a delightful experience talking with them and bridging the language difference to learn about what it's like to do what they do -- everything from the vineyards they own to raising children. Wonderful wines, too.
** Giuseppi Rinaldi in Barolo -- brilliant traditional winemaker, though I think his daughter increasingly runs things. Took us into the cellar, gave us barrel tastings, wonderful.
** Bartolo Mascarello in Barolo -- also a brilliant traditional winemaker, also run by his daughter. Outstanding.
** Castello di Verduno in Verduno -- a bit larger, more commercial operation but I enjoyed their wines, too.
I wanted to visit G.B Burlotto in Verduno because I love their wines, but they were closed. Also tried to visit Luca Roagna's winery, but he was in the U.S. at the time.
One other thing -- if you can, plan to buy some bottles and take them back. (We brought some "wine diapers" and stuffed them in our luggage.) Not only are they great but relatively cheap. For example, we bought the Bartolo Mascarello Barolo for 34 Euros, which is 1/2 to 1/3 what you'd pay to buy it here. You might even find some wines that aren't exported to the U.S.
One of the best things is to drive around and visit the different hilltop towns like La Morra, Monforte, Serralunga, etc. They will likely seem pretty empty, but they're beautiful with spectacular views, and many have great restaurants, too.
Enjoy your trip!
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Re: Tourist Friendly Wineries Around Alba

by Chris Cooper » Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:54 pm

Thanks both of you for the great information! By the way, if any of you recall a favorite trattoria in and around Alba, I'm looking for recommendations.
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Re: Tourist Friendly Wineries Around Alba

by Bruce K » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:14 pm

We had good dinners at Osteria dell’Arco (which if I remember correctly is Slow Food certified), and Osteria dei Sognatori, where there is no menu -- the waitress tells you what they've got that night and you work out with her what you're having. Terrific food at reasonable prices.
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Re: Tourist Friendly Wineries Around Alba

by Oliver McCrum » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:51 pm

I have had very good luck finding restaurants in Italy with the Osterie d'Italia app from Slow Food. It's geographically organized, easy to use even if you don't speak Italian. One of my favorite small restaurants is La Coccinella, which is perhaps 20* minutes drive from Alba; excellent food, very good list, nice but informal room.

The main thing to remember about tasting in Italy is that the great majority of wineries don't have US-style tasting rooms, which means you'll be tasting with the people who run the place, in most cases. So appointments are necessary, and do call if you can't make the appointment.

* 30 minutes, I just checked. Great drive through the hills, though.
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Re: Tourist Friendly Wineries Around Alba

by Chris Cooper » Mon Sep 22, 2014 11:57 am

Thanks! Very helpful.

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