The Night that Wishes Come True

wine glasses

San Lorenzo’s Night of the Falling Stars is almost upon us. Every year on August 10th friends and lovers stroll the warm summer nights hoping to catch a shooting star and express a desire that is promised to come true. But another activity, tasting the bounty of local wines, is the real highlight of the evening.

If you find yourself in Tuscany during the month of August, this is one event you won’t want to miss. What better way to meet the wine producers of Tuscany and sample their prestigious wines…. all under the twinkling night sky.

Also known as Calici di Stelle or Calici Sotto le Stelle (glasses below the stars), this Tuscan Wine Festival runs from August 5th through the 11th in many of the charming medieval hill towns, surrounded by picturesque and world-renown wineries. During the event, the piazza’s fill with local wine producers who offer glasses of wine to the public. Wine cellars open, accompanied by jazz music and theater performances on the piazza to entertain the wine tasting.

Vineyards outside Montepulciano
Vineyards outside Montepulciano

Montepulciano is most noted for its Vino Nobile, made of 60-80% Sangiovese grapes and aged a minimum of 2 years in a barrel. Rosso di Montepulciano is a lighter and fruitier version that is very popular. Vin Santo, a dessert wine made of dried white grapes, is also produced in the area. Sangiovese-based Chianti Classico and Brunellodi Montalcino are a Tuscan wine but not specific to Montepulciano.

Montepulciano grapes are not grown in Tuscany because they ripen late. This is confusing, but the grape is actually grown east of Rome and in the southern region where the weather is warmer.

This year wine quality and sustainability will be the emphasis of the Calici di Stelle in Montepulciano (famed renaissance and medieval hill town), known for it’s sumptuous Vino Nobile. On the night of the 10th, beginning at 5pm, within the Piazza Grande there will be 50 red wines to taste from the many Montepulciano cellars. There will also be tastings of local traditional gastronomic dishes. Art and Antique markets will line the streets, sold directly from the producers. Flag throwers and drummers will entertain in the piazza, followed by live concerts to enhance the evening as you stroll about with wine in hand.

Afterwards, find a grassy spot to spread a blanket out, lean back with glasses of sparkling wine and watch the stars as they criss-cross the sky. Grab one and your dreams will come true!

Recommended Local Winery Tours:

*Villa Cafaggio Winery in Chianti

*San Fabiano Calcinala Winery


Italy’s Women of the Vine

In Italy, more than a third of those working in wine are women. A new wave of feminine vintners is taking the boot by storm. From all regions across Italy’s domain, women are making their mark in the previously male dominated world of winemaking. These women are bringing a fresh new way of looking at wine, their land and the produce it brings by growing and developing organic, natural grapes with no chemicals.

Let's hear it for our Italian ladies of the vine.
Let’s hear it for our Italian ladies of the vine. (all photos credit of google)

The Antinori sisters from Florence are spearheading their 627 year old winery, being the first women in 26 generations of the Antinori lineage to have any significant role in the family’s winery. All three sisters are involved in public relations in addition to running their winery with their father, Piero Antinori.

Albiera,Alessia, and Allegra Antinori
Albiera, Alessia, and Allegra Antinori

The Antinori legend began in 1385, when Giovanni di Piero Antinori first entered the Winemakers Guild of Florence. Today, the wine industry has become an ultracompetitive global business, where they distribute their wine across the world.

A cutting edge cantina deep in the heart of Chianti is the Antinori’s newest project. This polished underground cellar made of terra-cotta and local stones, is hidden under olive groves and rows of grapevines.

Albiera sums up nicely her family’s winemaking priority. “The liquid in the bottle has to embody the soul of the people who make it. Nothing is more important than that.”

Elisabetta Foradori, from the Trentino-Alto Adige
Elisabetta Foradori, from the Trentino-Alto Adige

Elisabetta, a single parent of four, makes wine from the Teroldego grape. Her winery is beautifully nestled in the Trentino Valley, shadowed by the Dolomite Mountains of northern Italy. Her top Teroldego is called Granato, a stunning red said to be polished and refined. Elisabetta uses old terracotta pots to ferment her wine and has a fascinating way of wrapping her grapevines.

Nicoletta Bocca, from San Fereolo in the Piedmont region
Nicoletta Bocca, from San Fereolo in the Piedmont region

Nicoletta’s wines come from sustainable organic and biodynamic agriculture. Originally from Milan, she bought vineyards in the Turin area from elderly neighbors who could no longer take care of them, and from whom she learned much of her winemaking techniques and skills.

Dora Forsoni, from Tuscany
Dora Forsoni, from Tuscany

Poderi Sanguineto I & II, Dora’s winery, makes Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano. Her brothers had no interest in working in the wine business, so Dora took it on and loves it. A natural comedian, she enjoys telling the story of how she had a run in with a wild boar and has many scenes butchering things….one tough lady!

Arianna Occhipinti, from Ragusa Sicily
Arianna Occhipinti, from Ragusa Sicily

A non conformist in many ways, Arianna grows the Nero d’Avola and Frappato grapes. Her wines are considered earthy, mysterious and intriguing much like her. Her vines are uniquely trellised, growing up and around in a circular motion. She is known to produce an excellent olive oil as well.

These women of the vine are bringing a unique freshness to the winemaking world. Confident, independent, and wise, they continue to show originality and capability in producing top-notch world-class wine. They are intensely in love with their land and lovingly, passionately grow and cultivate their grapes into the magnificent wines for which they are known.

As Allegra Antinori puts it, “women choose the wines more often than men, and they are often more intuitive about food pairings and far more experimental. Having a woman involved in every aspect from winemaking to marketing has made a major difference in the company’s growth. Wine is emotional, not rational. It has a lot of personality, and people who are not wine experts are starting to understand subtle differences. Women especially embody that.”


Do you happen to know of a woman vintner who is making incredible wine? I’d love to hear about it. Please share in a comment below.