A crystal clear, blue sky greeted us for a walk through the vineyards at Ancora. Filippo produces about 1,000 bottles of Sangiovese from his grapes annually – just enough for yearly use by family, friends, and use at the B&B. Winemaking is his passion and hobby, giving him a playground around his full-time job as a professor at the University of Florence in Economic Geography.
That background came in handy as Filippo was able to not only talk the group through the entire winemaking process (while browsing through his Tuscan vineyard!), but also was able to lay that against the context of the Tuscan landscape, significant weather events to affect the vines, and the impact of sharecropping, tourism, and the economy on the winemaking industry. It was a truly special experience.
Of course, when you know good people like Laura and Filippo, it is only natural that you are fortunate enough to become connected to their friends as well. After our wine tour, we visited our friends Emmanuele, Paolo, and Gionni at their extra virgin olive oil facility in San Palo.
Emmanuele, our guide for the past 3 years, is passionate, energetic and a virtual encyclopedia of olive oil. We were welcomed into the processing area and were given a description of the entire process, from olive harvest, to crushing, separating the oil, etc… Most importantly, understanding WHY the olives are harvested by hand, and WHY temperature is so important, and WHY filtration is critical…the list goes on. We left with a new understanding of true extra virgin olive oil.
Adjourning upstairs, we were treated to a proper olive oil tasting. Three of their olive oils, and one surprise industrial version. Needless to say, the differences were astounding – and sad. Emmanuele then paired several oils with various antipasti to highlight the ability to properly pair olive oil with food according to the type of food, and your taste. It was an unbelievable learning experience, one that our guests will not soon forget.
But still more! Our next stop was Enoteca Falorni in Greve, where everyone used the fun “on tap” wine dispensers to taste many different wines, a splash at time. That primed us for a real treat – making our own pizza!
Alessandro’s pizzeria in Greve is highlighted by, well, Alessandro himself. He is an imposing, but welcoming figure, and he agrees to host our group and allow us to make and bake our own pizzas! Everyone took a turn making their own pizza behind the counter, from working the dough, topping it, getting it successfully on the peel and then into the oven. Sixteen pizzas later – we were stuffed!
What a day! And we can’t wait to experience all the sights and smells of the Greve market in the morning!
Inspirational Note: The landscape of Tuscany and sheer volume of knowledge we experienced today really got our thoughts rolling with ideas for new classes in the new facility. We absolutely must do an olive oil class when we get the new place open! Also, I would like to start a whole series of classes that help to translate what we learn over here on all types of artisan products!! We really want the Main Street location to be a place where you can feel transported to Italy…without the plane ticket!