• Click CONTACT US in the footer if you have any problems registering for the forums.

Postcard - Paolo Bea Winery Tour and Tasting

On this trip to Italy, with my husband and three other couples, I thought it would be fun to include some tours/activities during our week in Umbria to provide us with a more in-depth look at the culture and traditions in "the green heart of Italy". Since food and wine are interests we all share, a winery tour and a cooking class seemed like a fun way to gain some insight into the local culture.

I had read good things about the personalized winery tour at Paolo Bea in Montefalco on Slow Travel, so that seemed a good place to start. Giampiero replied promptly to my request for information about his tours and offered a tour of his vineyards and a wine tasting with stuzzichini (small food) for 30 euro per person at 5:30pm on a Monday afternoon. The rate per person fluctuates depending on the number in your group (more per person the smaller your group). Unfortunately, on the day we scheduled this tour, one of the couples was not feeling well and did not make the tour, so we ended up being six. This did not faze Giampiero, nor change the fee for the tour.

While in Bevagna earlier that day, we picked up the La Strada del Sagrantino Map from the Tourist Office in the main square that clearly illustrated the route to take to the Paolo Bea winery. Route SS316 was a very beautiful route and we were quite taken by the lush, green countryside. The winery is only a 10-minute drive from the center of Montefalco, making a tour here a good combination with exploring this lovely hill town.

The very charming Giampiero, an architect by training, who is responsible for all the commercial aspects of the winery, greeted us warmly as we pulled into the Bea estate. Although he claimed his English was poor, it was really quite good and his melodious Italian accent just added to the experience. His family has been on this small estate since the 1500s. His father, at 72 years of age, is the "guiding force" behind the production of their wines and his brother Giuseppe farms the vineyards. Giampiero (or, as we later referred to him, GP) told us that alternate generations have always had the names Paolo, Giuseppe and Giampiero. I guess they have a long line of males! In addition to their wine production, they raise farm animals and produce olives, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables. GP hopped in our car and took us out to view his beautiful 15 hectares, 5 of which are vineyards and 2 that are planted for olive production. Sixty percent of the vineyards are devoted to the Sagrantino grape, forty percent to Sangiovese and Montepulciano, and a small parcel for several white varieties.


Giampiero talking to the group.

The vines were bursting with almost fully mature grapes and were a sight to behold. While walking through the vineyards with us, GP's passion for producing organically grown grapes and using a "pure" winemaking process that doesn't try to "correct or improve what nature offers", thoroughly impressed us. They do not use herbicides or chemical fertilizers at Paolo Bea. He believes that wine is an expression of nature and looks forward to the differences in each year's harvest, knowing that nature will produce some great and not so great vintages over time. For his family, winemaking is an art, and their wines are produced in an old fashioned, traditional way. The grapes are hand picked and bottled without filtration. So you may very well taste sediment as you drink Paolo Bea wines. According to GP, this is a pure and real wine drinking experience that embraces the earth and soil in which the grapes are grown. GP thinks that the soil in this area is unique for growing grapes. He has a theory that the soil on his land is very similar to the soil in Armenia and believes his ancestors may have originated there.

After our tour of the vineyards in the beautiful countryside, we went back to view the stainless steel vats and hear a bit about the fermentation process. The Montefalco Rosso is bottled after 20 months, the Sagrantino Secco and Montelfaco Riserva is bottled after an additional amount of time. Then it was on to what we really came for - the tasting!

GP laid out a cluster of grapes as a centerpiece and lit some candles to set the mood as he proceeded to describe and pour the various wines. Mama brought out homemade pates and bread to dip into their delicious olive oil. There really is nothing quite like that spicy, green Umbrian olive oil! We started with his white wines and ended with a desert wine. I am not a wine connoisseur, so I can't tell you about the various wines' nose, or bouquet or describe their textures in my mouth. But I can tell you that I enjoyed them all, especially the 2001 Montefalco Rosso Riserva and the Montelfaco Sagrantino. They were smooth and delicious! With each taste of wine, more cheese or homemade tortas were offered to complement a particular wine, all of them a delight.


The wine and food tasting.

After we finished tasting all of his offerings (I really can't recall how many but at least seven different wines and vintages), GP sat down and chatted with us about more personal things such as why he wasn't married yet (too busy) and informed us about a good restaurant he knows about in the Boston area that serves his wine. I can tell you that the women in the group were totally enchanted and the men were having a great time.

One of my friends commented later that as she was sitting there, she kept thinking that this kind of experience only happens to other people. She couldn't quite believe we were chatting away with this eloquent and dare I say, adorable, winemaker. Doesn't this kind of experience only happen to the "privileged"? No, you just have to do your research (including the great resource of the Slow Travel message board) and plan accordingly.

Before we knew it, three hours had passed and we needed to get on the road. Who would have thought a wine tour would last so long! We made our purchases of wine and olive oil and he discounted our tour fee to 25 euro each because of our purchases. Momma was in charge of handling the money and we complimented her on her stuzzichini, wine and most of all her gracious son. I bought four bottles, two of which we drank later on the Amalfi coast and two that made it home intact and are waiting for a special occasion.

We had all been to wineries in Napa, the Finger Lakes and Chianti but we unanimously agreed that nothing could compare to or be more special than our evening spent with the passionate Giampiero at Paolo Bea. We felt privileged to have had an inside look at the culture and tradition of a winemaking family that have been producing fine wine for centuries.


Booking.com Hotels in Europe
AutoEurope.com Car Rentals

Latest posts

New resources