Since we took a pesto class on our last trip, I decided it would be fun to do a wine tasting tour in Cinque Terre on our second trip. The Cinque Terre region is known for a dry white wine called Sciacchetrà, which is made from two types of grapes. While every resident of Cinque Terre has their own wine terrace, they are not all maintained and much of the wine that is produced in the region is sold locally.
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Wine Tasting Tour in Cinque Terre – The Basics
Our tour was originally booked leaving from Riomaggiore. Two days before our tour, we received an email and text message saying that the Riomaggiore tour did not make. We were offered a tour in Manarola on the same day at the same time or we could opt for a refund. Since we were staying in Manarola, we agreed to the change.
We met Alessandro outside of a local restaurant right as the daytrippers started to descend upon Manarola. Alessandro was a Manarola native and a vineyard owner. He checked our shoes (wear comfortable shoes appropriate for hiking) and we set off towards the harbor. Right before we hit the harbor, he led us up the cliff side and away from the crowds.
Wine Tasting Tour in Cinque Terre – The History Lessons
Our first stop as we climbed the hillside was at the cemetery that overlooks the coastline and the sea. Here, Alessandro explained that there was less than 280 natives left in the village. I touched on this in my post about the best place to stay in Cinque Terre, but essentially young locals are being priced out of the market because of tourist demand for apartments. Many are forced to move to La Spezia, which is a larger city and has more affordable housing options.
As we continued to wind around the backside of Manarola, Alessandro educated us about the wine terraces. As mentioned above, every resident has their own wine terrace. Some are no longer maintained because it’s very expensive to do so. The drywall can cost more than $7,000 to repair because all the materials must be brought in and most modern technology cannot be used. This is true of the farming equipment as well. Alessandro has acquired a number of terraces because people know how well he cares for them. His terraces are on the backside of Manarola, overlooking the harbor where the locals swim and looking out towards Corniglia.
Wine Tasting Tour in Cinque Terre – The Wine
Sciacchetrà is a bit of a temperamental wine, and it can be heavily affected by the elements. Since it’s difficult to use modern technology on the terraces, Cinque Terre wines area little more expensive. It’s not mass produced like Chianti. As a result, most of the wine that is manufactured in Cinque Terre is sold to local merchants and restaurants.
The wine is comprised of three different types of grapes (Vermentino, Bosco, and Albarola), although the percentages are up to the individual wine producer. After showing us the different ways that he grows his grapes, Alessandro led us down to his cellar, which was a block away from our hotel. He showed us how he meticulously checks the temperature to ensure that it’s not fermenting too fast or too slow. His cellar had several large tanks where the wine is fermented and later stored until he’s ready to bottle it. Because space is at a premium in Manarola, he only bottles what he needs to deliver – there’s not much room for storage.
Wine Tasting Tour in Cinque Terre – The Bonuses!
One of the things that made this tour great was how much insight Alessandro was able to share with us about Manarola, tourism, restaurants, and of course, the wine. He really went above and beyond the normal tour guide. It’s clear he’s extremely passionate about Manarola and wine. He’ll shoot straight with you and answer any questions you have about the Cinque Terre. Spoiler alert: It’s not a fishing village!
For more Cinque Terre planning, tips and tricks:
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