“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy,”
– Benjamin Franklin
This year’s Cantine Aperte weekend has been filled with time with friends in the countryside around Montefalco. It was about tasting gorgeous wines, strolling through the vines, and enjoying stunning views over some of Umbria’s finest landscapes.
And what better place to learn about the local superstar grape Sagrantino than at the Arnaldo Caprai vineyard.
Umbrian families have been perfecting their crafts for generations. And that goes for harvesting olives, sculpting ceramics and, of course, winemaking.
Visiting this beautiful winery was on the top of my ‘to do’ list for years. They are evangelical about taking visitors on tours, tastings, or even gourmet picnics among the vines – the setting makes for the perfect al fresco dining experience.
Since 1988 Marco Caprai has been leading the company in his pursuit of giving the tradition an innovative approach. Harnessing his personal talent and skills, he made a commitment to produce high quality wines through environmentally conscious innovation, sustainable winery and farming operations. This, and the desire to preserve the landscape and regional identity, has lead to years of research in the agronomic and enological fields, which also involved the University of Agriculture of Milan.
An incredible journey awaits you once you set foot in this factory. A behind the scenes tour into the world of chocolate making!
You will learn about the history of the brand, as well as the aspects of top-quality chocolate production – this place has been home to the famous Baci (Kisses) wrapped in multilingual love notes, and then come the finest truffle and praline fillings, chocolate bars and so much more.
Since Perugina launched its first store in 1919, it has grown into an internationally known brand, which has conquered our hearts, one bacio at a time.
This is also a story of the lady behind it all, Mrs. Luisa Spagnoli, who realized her ambitions of creating not only a brand of women’s fashion clothing, but also a small chocolate making enterprise in the centre of Perugia.
The past comes to life thanks to a selection of photographs and objects that recreate the history of Perugina from its humble origins in 1907 to the present day.
In a relaxed atmosphere of the chocolate atelier you can create your very own chocolates under the expert guidance of maître chocolatiers, or practice the art of chocolate making by visiting chocolate workshops.
Our knowledgeable guide Luigi made the tour a very unique experience. He gave us an interesting insight on the company’s history.
An introduction video was followed by a wonderful visit of the factory, an explanation as to the origins of the coco bean and how chocolate is made, and of course, tasting the entire range of Perugina chocolates!
They also have a shop for you to go mad in – a wide selection of chocolate gifts to take home at the end of the tour.
November is the right month for a sensorial tour in the genuine Umbrian way of living made of good wines, freshly picked truffles and newly-pressed extra-virgin olive oils.
Umbrian countryside is authentic, with a rich cultural and artistic heritage. And while paintings, sculptures and frescoes from the greats such as Raffaello Sanzio, Perugino, Luca Signorelli, Rosso Fiorentino, the Della Robbia family, fill the museums, churches, galleries and squares of many beautiful Umbrian towns, other art expressions await you here, in the vineyards, olive groves, factories and rustic farmhouses, as Italian quality products are very famous and appreciated all over the world. These masterpieces derive from the same history and culture, geographical position, love and pride, determination that producers put into their products.
Olive harvesting and pressing has just started. I got really involved this year at local olive oil mills during Frantoi Aperti – the most important annual event dedicated to oil. Held in November, the festival celebrates the extra virgin olive oil of high quality Italy is so renowned for. Gastronomic itineraries and cultural events of all kinds are organized on November weekends in villages and tiny hamlets throughout the boot. Workshops, regional menus, guided tastings… olive oil can tell many stories, just follow the oil route to discover the best mills of the territory and spend a blissful time in this beautiful country.
Frantoio Marfuga near the beautiful hill town of Spoleto. This morning begins with a memorable visit to the mill and the estate with Serena, who turned out to be a very knowledgeable and entertaining guide. The passion is almost tangible. Here olives are being turned into some of the best Italian extra virgin olive oils. Fruity and fragrant, they boast an extraordinary flavor, good intensity and persistence, and an unmistakable mildly peppery, bitter after-taste..
Olives don’t have to be too ripe to be picked. When it comes to extra virgin olive oil, the timing is crucial. The harvest must start early in the olive’s natural maturation process. Olives are picked when they are only partially dark and the fruity flavor is at its max, which assures a low degree of acidity. The olives are harvested mostly by hand. After the olives are gathered into small containers, they are brought to the mill (or frantoio). The olives are separated from the leaves, washed, crushed into thick paste, and pressed into oil.
Umbrian oil makes up only about 2 percent of Italy’s olive oil production, but these oils win a far larger proportion of awards.
The award-winning company Marfuga with their D.O.P. UMBRIA Colli Assisi-Spoleto, and other oils. By the way, Umbria was the first Italian region to receive the D.O.P. designation in 1997 for the entire territory – a recognition of the authentic Umbrian oil, it’s basically a stamp of excellence and ‘protection of origin’.
And as for the skin care, here are some EVOO beauty products, for a charming gift. Olive oil is a great moisturizer, and first uses of olive oil were on the body and not in it.
Marfuga olive oil themed products include creams, soaps, lotions, and scrubs.
Best way to savor the liquid gold? On bruschetta, of course! MARFUGA NOVELLO Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the first oil of the year. Bottled without being filtered in order to maintain its precious qualities, it should be poured with gusto on your bruschetta. Happiness!
Known as green gold, Umbrian olive oil is an expensive treat. But avoid olive oil with a low price; the idea is that you must eat quality and not quantity. It is good for you, the health benefits of olive oil are unrivaled. Characterized by its intense green colour with golden highlights, fresh and fruity fragrance, this liquid gold is peppery, spicy and absolutely delicious!
Proudly an olive oil sommelier and a member of AICOO