Grape Harvest and Wine Making
September and October are the months for the Tuscan “vendemmia,” the Italian word for the grape harvest. The exact date of the grape harvest is decided year by year, depending on the weather, the quantity of rainfall and the changes from one vineyard to another. The most important thing is that the grapes must have the right level of sweetness.
It isn’t possible to participate in the actual grape-picking, which is hard and laborious. By law, only contracted and insured workers can work in the vineyards and in fields. However, visiting wineries during this time is quite an experience, as you can witness the wine-making process, tasting and, on occasion, the grapes.
Olive Harvest and Oil Making
Olives are harvested from October to December. Sometimes in Tuscany, the harvest can begin as early as the end of September. An early harvest means that the fruit is less ripe and therefore produces less oil, making Tuscan olive oils a bit more rare than others. The less ripe olives also account for the prized peppery taste of Tuscan oil.
As for the wineries, it is possible to organize a visit to olive mills to see how extra virgin olive oil is made. Unlike the wine, which needs aging time, the oil can be tasted right away, as soon as it comes out of the machines! With a visit here, oil tasting can be organized with bruschetta and other dishes on request.
Truffling in Val d’Orcia
The Tuscan truffle season lasts roughly from September through December. The area around San Giovanni d’Asso, which is the oldest hamlet in the entire Crete Senesi region, produces black truffles as well as the sought-after and costly white truffle. A truffle market fair is held here in November the second and third weekends of November.
San Giovanni d’Asso is located about 80 km southeast of Florence and about 30 km southeast of Siena in the picturesque area known as The Crete Senesi. It’s a small village dominated by a large castle which now houses the truffle museum.
Truffle hunting can be organized for Inspirato members. Details below:
Where: San Giovanni D’Asso, Crete Senesi and Montepulciano
San Giovanni D’Asso (very popular for truffles) is about a 1 hour and 15 minute drive
Crete Senesi and Montepulciano are about a 45-minute drive
When: September through December
Group size: max 5 people (in case of more people, two groups will be created)
Duration: 2 hours
Recommended: hiking/tennis shoes and very comfortable pants
Found truffles can be purchased. Prices vary according to the quality, but also to the season and the market offer/demand. White truffles are very, very rare. Usually in these excursions, hunters look for black truffles. Truffle hunting can be combined with a private chef reservation to cook truffle-specific dishes!