Tuscany in Autumn can be described as a captivating display of smells, tastes, colours, emotions, landscapes and more. Here at Cignella, Autumn is one of our favourite times of year to experience the Val D’Orcia – particularly due to the wonders of harvest time!
Harvest time in Tuscany
The harvest, like in many countries, is an incredibly important time of year. Tuscany is world-renowned for its delicious cuisine and beautiful landscapes – and as such, much care goes into tending the land and creating high quality products. Autumn is a critical time for the harvest of some of Italy’s most famous and well-loved exports. A time of year when the transition in colour, weather and menus highlights a side of Tuscany that is rarely appreciated, but incredibly important.
The arrival of autumn is filled with great meaning in Italy. It is associated largely with the ‘Vendemmia’ – the grape harvest that will go on to make the year’s supply of wine across the region. The Vendemmia begins in late August, with the harvest lasting until early October. The event itself is crucial, determining the flavours and overall success of the wine vintage for that year. This means that for the locals harvesting the grapes, everything must be timed right to ensure that the region’s wines are as delicious as possible until the next harvest. In Italy, people have been cultivating vines for the past three millennia – this ritual cannot be done with machines and has served as a way of maintaining centuries-old traditions and practises across the region.
Harvest time in Tuscany is incredible to witness, so why not take this time to tour Tuscany’s most famous vineyards? Many smaller vineyards hold regular tours during Vendemmia where you can help with the harvest and see the process for making wine. In North Tuscany, it is possible to visit Capezzana and Castello di Nipozzano. In Chianti, a stone’s throw from Cignella, are the Castello di Ama and Antinori vineyards – definitely worth a visit! In the south of Tuscany there is the extensive Bolgheri Wine region and Meramma, full of vineyards and wineries to explore and tour to your hearts content. Due to the centrality our location, Cignella is a perfect base to visit these places and tour the region.
In Tuscany, the tradition of harvesting olives begins in late October/early November and usually continues until mid-December, depending on the climatic conditions in order to harvest the fruit at the optimal time. Farmers lay out baskets and sheets under the trees so as not to miss a single piece of fruit during harvest time.
Why not visit a local oil mill to see the machinery involved in the process of making the extra virgin olive oil? Many mills have a tasting room where you can sample the freshly pressed extra virgin olive oil and other local products in a delicious lunch.
Join local foraging groups to collect porcini mushrooms, a wonderful harvest time activity. Porcini are in abundance in early autumn, favouring forests with predominantly horse chestnut and oak trees. These fragrant mushrooms are a wonderful ingredient and common in many Tuscan dishes. Be sure to research the ideal areas for picking mushrooms and check the guidelines and rules before heading out.
Truffle hunting is an historic practise that has been taking place in Tuscany for centuries. Truffles can be found all year round under the right environmental conditions, but are famously plentiful in the autumn. Traditionally the first truffle hunts of the season begin after the first rainfall, creating the perfect conditions for their growth – it is after this when you find the best truffles!
Truffle hunting around Cignella is a fun and casual affair. You will head out with a guide and their trained truffle dog to fill your wicker baskets whilst they teach you about the Tuscan traditions tied with the landscape – make sure you pick enough truffles to use with your dinner!
If you choose to stay with us at Cignella, we can organise all of these activities for you! Simply let us know what you would like to do during your stay and leave the rest to us. When you’re finished seeing all of the wonders of harvest time in Tuscany, relax in our gardens or inside of your villa with a glass of wine and wonderful meal.