Question: What’s more incredible than drinking Chianti Classico wine?
Answer: Drinking Chianti Classico wine at a winery in Chianti during the grape harvest!
Chianti during the harvest is full of energy and beautiful colors. It’s one of my favorite times of year to be here and I encourage our friends and family to visit during the grape harvest.
If you’re thinking about visiting during the Chianti grape harvest, you’ll want to know:
- What we call the grape harvest in Italian
- When the grape harvest is in Chianti
- How to best enjoy the Chianti grape harvest
- Where to stay during the harvest
- Non-wine activities you can enjoy during the grape harvest in Chianti
- My tips for visiting Chianti during the grape harvest
- My tips for visiting with kids during the grape harvest in Chianti
Note: I’ll be focusing on the smaller Chianti Classico area, not Chianti as a whole. Chianti Classico is the area most people are talking about when they mention ‘Chianti.’ The most famous villages are Greve in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, and Gaiole in Chianti. We also love San Casciano in Val di Pesa.
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Table of Contents
Vendemmia – The Grape Harvest
In Italian, the grape harvest is called the vendemmia.
Listen to the pronunciation of vendemmia:
Quest’anno, la vendemmia è iniziata a metà settembre.
This year, the grape harvest began in mid-September.
When is the Grape Harvest in Chianti?
Like in all wine regions around the globe, the timing of the grape harvest in Chianti depends on weather conditions during the year (and other factors like the elevation of the vineyard and sun exposure).
The vendemmia in Chianti is typically sometime in September or October.
Because you won’t know the exact dates, it’s tough to plan out a vendemmia vacation a year in advance, but if you’re visiting mid-September to mid-October, it’s likely you’ll be able to experience the excitement of the harvest.
Even if you miss the actual harvest of the grapes, there are many other harvest season events that take place that have fixed dates, like the Chianti Classico Wine Expo (more on that below).
Good To Know: Many Chianti wineries are small and family-run, which means it’s important to book visits in advance. Don’t assume that the winery you’d like to visit accepts drop-ins. Also, keep in mind that the smaller wineries are ‘all-hands-on-deck’ during the harvest and may be closed to visitors or only accepting limited numbers of visits or tastings.
Read more about Visiting Tuscany in the Fall
Best Wine Experiences in Chianti in the Fall
Chianti during the vendemmia is a magical time of year. From waking up to a view of lush vineyards, to spotting trucks overflowing with grapes, to sipping wine on an outdoor terrace surrounded by vineyards – you won’t run out of beautiful images during the grape harvest.
Let’s take a look at ways you can enjoy this special time of year – with or without a glass of Chianti Classico in hand.
Participate in the Chianti Grape Harvest
I want to start off with this one because this is one of the most common requests I get.
While you may be imagining a dreamy afternoon skipping in the vineyards and popping grapes into your partner’s mouth, the reality of picking grapes is much less romantic – it’s hard work! The days are long, there’s a lot of stooping down to find stems to snip, and did I mention the vipers?
Still, if you’re set on participating in the harvest, your best bet is to ask at the agriturismo you’re staying at or to contact a small vineyard (like La Bruscola). Most larger vineyards are all business and don’t invite guests to participate in the harvest.
If you do decide to participate at your agriturismo or a small vineyard, keep in mind that it’s best to organize this in advance and that it’s work, not play! Wine production is a serious business (and the livelihood of many of these small wineries). The harvest timeline is carefully planned out and the staff is focused on harvesting the grapes within the chosen time frame.
One of the best parts of the harvest is enjoying the harvest lunch – when everyone takes a break to gather for a delicious meal before heading back out to work.
Fun Fact: A Chianti Classico wine must have at least 80% sangiovese grapes, and the remaining 20% must be red grapes (no white grapes allowed).
Visit a Winery During the Harvest
You may also be interested in visiting a winery during the vendemmia. It’s a lovely time to walk through the vinyeards, visit the cellars, and taste wines. Check out tastings at these vineyards for excellent wines and lovely views of the vineyards being harvested:
- Lamole di Lamole (above Greve in Chianti)
- Castello di Brolio (not far from Gaiole in Chianti)
- Felsina (in Castelnuovo Berardenga)
- Castello di Ama (near Gaiole in Chianti)
- Fonterutoli (just outside Castellina in Chianti)
- Castello di Meleto (just outside Gaiole in Chianti)
- Cantalici (just outside Gaiole in Chianti)
- Il Cavaliere (near San Casciano Val di Pesa)
Attend a Wine Festival in Chianti
Multiple wine festivals will pop up in Chianti during the fall months. Keep an eye out for signs posted in villages and check with local tourist info offices to see what’s scheduled for your vacation dates.
The main festival that you shouldn’t miss is the multi-day Chianti Classico Wine Expo (Expo del Chianti Classico), which takes place in Greve in Chianti each September.
The main piazza in Greve fills up with stands and you can purchase a wine glass (with a handy holder that you wear as a necklace) that comes with 7 tasting tickets. Use your tickets to sample wines at the stands or in the small pavilion – and don’t worry, you can purchase more tickets.
In addition to sampling wines, there are food trucks on the piazza as well as live music, markets, guided tastings, and art shows.
The expo typically runs from pre-lunch to around dinner time – you can check the timing and dates on the official site for the Chianti Classico Wine Expo.
Stay in an Agriturismo
An agriturismo is a highlight of any stay in Chianti, and even more so during the vendemmia. On a grape-growing property, you can get an up-close look at the grape harvest, from the early morning work out in the fields to the midday break and meal. It also feels special to have wine from the property with your meals while you’re looking at the grapes being harvested.
Even if you’re not on the property for the actual days of the harvest, it’s still nice to stay in an agriturismo in the fall in Chianti because the vineyards are gorgeous – including later in the fall when they change colors.
Go on a Chianti Road Trip
The strada statale 222 (SS222, aka the Chiantigiana or Via Chiantigiana) is a famous route that runs from Florence to Siena and passes through postcard-perfect Chianti Classico countryside.
Hop in your rental car and take the road in either direction and pass through Greve in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti, and Castellina in Chianti, and make detours to the other main Chianti villages (Radda in Chianti and Gaiole in Chianti).
You can also visit other small villages and hamlets on and off the Chiantigiana, like:
- San Casciano in Val di Pesa
- Castelnuovo Berardenga
- San Donato in Poggio
Explore the Chianti Villages
Whether it’s to visit an enoteca (wine bar), to stop in at a restaurant, do some shopping, or just relax and enjoy the views, be sure to visit one or more of the ‘main’ Chianti villages:
- Greve in Chianti – home to the Chianti Classico Wine Expo; lively market town; one of Italy’s most beautiful villages is just up the hill (Montefioralle); plenty of dining and wine tasting options nearby
- Castellina in Chianti – one of the most visited Chianti villages; has my favorite gelateria in Chianti; wine tastings in town and nearby; plenty of parking
- Gaiole in Chianti – the quietest of the villages, it comes to life for the Eroica bike race at the beginning of October
- Panzano in Chianti – often voted the ‘prettiest’ Chianti village, it definitely has spectacular views of the countryside; famous for Dario the butcher and his many restaurants
- Radda in Chianti – tiny but mighty Radda has an adorable main square; stop in at one of the wine shops for tastings and to buy a couple of bottles to take home (or enjoy during your stay!)
Helpful Tip: If you’re in Florence and want to visit Chianti without a car, take the bus to charming (and nearby) San Casciano in Val di Pesa. Or check out How to Visit Tuscany Without a Car.
Have a Meal with a Vineyard View
Chianti is overflowing with restaurants that have a vineyard view. Here are a few to get you started:
- La Cantinetta di Rignana – One of our family’s go-tos in Chianti; casual and delicious; we usually get appetizers and meat dishes to share; spectacular views; kind of a pain to get there on a gravel road. Loc. Rignana – Greve in Chianti.
- Rinuccio 1180 – On-site at the Antinori Chianti Classico Winery. The agnello (lamb) is delicious and pairs perfectly with the property’s wines. Via Cassia per Siena, 13 – San Casciano Val di Pesa.
- Ristorante Oltre il Giardino – Cristian and his family serve up Tuscan classics with amazing views of the vineyards; sit under the wisteria-roofed terrace (not in bloom during the harvest but still beautiful). Piazza Gastone Bucciarelli, 42 – Panzano in Chianti.
- La Bottega del 30 – Ask for one of the tables outside; Michelin-star; traditional Tuscan food with a twist; be sure to walk around tiny Villa a Sesta before your meal; this is one of my favorite ‘fancy’ restaurants in Tuscany – I wish we lived closer to it! Via di Santa Caterina, 2 – Villa a Sesta.
- La Volpenera – Part of the Salvadonica agriturismo; try the peposo all’Imprunetina, a beef stew that’s the specialty meat dish of the area. Via Grevigiana, 82 – San Casciano Val di Pesa.
Have a Picnic in a Vineyard
If a meal with a view of a vineyard isn’t enough for you, have a picnic in a vineyard! This can be a romantic activity with your partner or a fun outdoor meal with your family. Many agriturismi and wineries offer vineyard picnics, including:
- Castello di Brolio – you can also visit the castle
- Borgo Salvadonica – easy to reach from Florence; near San Casciano Val di Pesa
- Lamole – in the hills above Greve in Chianti; spectacular views
Where to Stay During the Wine Harvest in Chianti
If you can, stay in an agriturismo in Chianti or in a hotel on a wine estate. You’ll have a front-row seat to the grape harvest – from the early morning picking to the processing. Plus, the energy is amazing! A few ideas:
- Castello di Gabbiano – beautiful hilltop castle property surrounded by vineyards; excellent on-site restaurant
- Castello Vicchiomaggio – spectacular views (especially from the swimming pool) at this wine-focused property
- Castello di Fonterutoli – stay in the borgo and soak up the harvest energy and enjoy the restaurants (especially the property’s osteria across the street)
- Borgo San Felice – upscale borgo surrounded by vineyards; excellent wines; relaxing place to stay and one of my favorite Chianti properties
- Fattoria I Greppi di Silli – small, family-run property; lovely pool area; the owners are happy to share Chianti farm life with guests (from the grape harvest to beekeeping); steep road leading up to the property
- Castello di Brolio – multiple accommodation options, like the Castello di Brolio AgriRoom
Otherwise, stay in one of the Chianti villages and feel the excitement of the vendemmia as you see small trucks and tractors pass by with just-picked grapes.
More Things to Do During the Vendemmia in Chianti
- Attend a sagra – these food festivals are a great way to mingle with locals and sample Tuscan specialties. There are plenty of them running in the fall in Tuscany. Don’t worry about planning for them in advance. Just look out for the paper signs on boards and pillars and join the locals for a casual and delicious meal.
- Experience the Festa dell’Uva – Ok, so Impruneta is just outside Chianti, but you won’t want to miss this ‘grape festival.’ This month-long festival includes food, wine, live music, a parade with homemade (amazing!) floats, and more. It’s a huge deal for local residents and we love seeing the enthusiasm and joy at this fun festival.
- Go for a bike ride – Chianti is prime cycling country and the cooler temperatures of the fall and gorgeous colors of the vineyards and forests make it an ideal time of year for a spin. Bring your own bike, rent one, or join an organized tour.
- Run in the Chianti Classico EcoMarathon – It begins in Castelnuovo Berardenga and makes its way through the vineyards, on strade bianche (gravel roads), and on single-track trails through the forest and countryside. There are multiple distances and you can also participate in the non-competitive walks.
- Ride in the Eroica bike race – This epic ride on strade bianche is not for the faint hearted! Not only do you ride on gravel roads – you do it on vintage bicycles and wearing vintage clothing! My husband has ridden it, and I’ve enjoyed watching it. If you’re not in town for the ride (beginning of October), you can follow the brown Eroica signs and ride on your own – with a modern bicycle!
Tips for Visiting Chianti During the Vendemmia
- Don’t pick the grapes. As tempting as it is, remember that those grapes are needed for the delicious wines you’re drinking!
- Watch out for vipers. If you walk in the vineyards, keep an eye out for the small snakes we have in the Tuscan countryside. I’ve never seen a viper in Tuscany (only once on a trail in the Dolomites), but others I know have seen them.
- Respect the fences. In the last few years, more and more vineyard owners are putting fences up – to keep animals and people out. If you see a fence, don’t try to climb it or sneak through it.
- Book accommodation in advance. Fall in Chianti is gorgeous, so we get a lot of visitors. For the best rates and properties, book in advance.
- Bring a sweater to outdoor meals. Vineyard dinners are romantic and special, but it can get chilly in the autumn evenings.
- Arrange a private driver or book a wine tour. If you don’t want to have a designated driver for wine tastings, have someone else do the driving! Check out my NCC (private driver) recommendations on my resources page. Or, book a wine tour! Read more about Tuscany Without a Car.
- Allow plenty of time for road trips during the vendemmia. Remember that Chianti roads are winding, and that you’ll probably have a few unplanned stops. Ensure that your Chianti road trip isn’t rushed – build in some extra time in your schedule.
Tips for Visiting Chianti for the Vendemmia with Kids
You’re dreaming of visiting Chianti during the grape harvest – but is it possible with kids? Yes, it is! Here are a few tips to make it fun and stress-free for your family:
- Book a private driver. It’s nice to not have to worry about driving, and a local driver knows where to stop for potty breaks, where local playgrounds are, and which restaurants on your route are best with kids. Plus, if you don’t have to worry about driving, navigating, and parking, you can focus on your kids and enjoying the vendemmia!
- Limit wine harvest activities. Stick to one grape harvest activity per day and fill the rest of the day with kid-friendly activities. For example, do a tour and tasting in the morning, then stop at the Chianti Sculpture Park for a picnic and visit. Your kids will love running around and checking out all of the outdoor art installations.
- Make sure you let the winery know you’ll be coming with children. They’ll let you know the best plan for kids at the winery (come along on the visit and sample grape juice instead of wine, play in the courtyard, have a snack at the bar next door, stay in a nearby town at the playground, etc).
- Plan other kid-friendly activities. In addition to visiting vineyards and tasting wines, work in other activities like a Chianti cooking class, or visits to places like the Chianti Sculpture Park and Castello di Brolio.
- Keep kids looking for the black roosters. The main Chianti Classico villages have huge black rooster statues – see if your kids can find them on each stop. They can also look for them in other places (like on the wine bottles during your tastings).
- Take time to visit playgrounds. Most Chianti villages have a small playground. If you don’t see one, you can always ask, “Dov’è il parco giochi più vicino?” (Where’s the closest playground?).
Read more about
Chianti with Kids
Castellina in Chianti with Kids
I hope you enjoy your time in Chianti during the grape harvest!