Okay – on we go with our Tuscan adventures. After I plied Dick’s face off the windshield of our rented Fiat (he was oogling the Ferrari that passed you know) we stopped at a local market to pick up a few picnic items. We were having lunch at the balsamic vinegar farm before our tour and tasting.
We had a wonderful picnic of meats and cheeses – the crackers were even made of cheese. We finished off with pears dipped in balsamic, Italian plums (which of course here are just called plums – ha ha).
Our host of the farm greeted us and took us to the area where the event began. We were taken to the attic (3 stories up) and given quite a lecture on this farm’s history. The villa on this farm was originally owned by a Jewish family that had to leave it when World War II broke out. It was then inhabited by the Nazi’s. After the war, the Jewish family sold the Villa to the current owner’s family.
We visited the trabiani grape vines. Yes, vinegar is made from grapes. This vinegar is treated and processed the traditional way which allows them to earn a certification – much like wine. What was fascinating in this attic is that there are barrel groups starting small and moving up to medium large size. Apparently a family buys this group of barrels when a child is born and fills them with their crushed grapes that work into vinegar. Some of these barrels are hundreds of years old and very coveted because they hold the flavor and color that adds to the vinegar quality.
The barrels are actually open at the top so the air can flow. They cover the hole with a family cloth. These barrels are kept in the attic because it is hot in summer and it helps with fermentation and in the winter when it is cooler, it can rest. If you want to sell your vinegar publicly you have to wait 12 years. Once a year they have to top off the barrels because they lose 10% of the volume per year. That process was funny to me because they take from each successive barrel to the next and then put the recent year’s harvest in the biggest barrel. They do that to balance the flavors of old and new.
We were told that balsamic vinegar was used as medicine back in the day (an aspirin of sorts), as well as for paying the doctor, etc.
Okay, so enough about cheese and vinegar and on to our next resort. This really is a resort. Even though it is a vinegar farm the hotel they have created around it is FABULOUS. Our room is a suite, with a modern bed facing the view out our deck of the vineyards and fields. On the second floor is a sitting room with an area we are using as a quasi kitchen – luckily we have a fridge to keep our cheese – yes we did buy some!
There is an infinity pool here (I’m doing water aerobics tomorrow with Antimo – jealous ladies?) We all jumped in the pool as soon as we were settled in our room to cool off and enjoy the countryside. Now Dick and I are sitting on our patio having a glass of wine and just feasting our eyes on this new scenery.
Tomorrow is a free day – totally free! It will give Dick a chance to catch up on all the games and scores. LOL
The entrance to the vinegar farm. It was so beautiful. the owner lives in a Villa to the right of this that is stunning on the outside. Lunch under the trees at the balsamic vinegar farm. Vinegar tasting – one was aged 7 years, another was 12 years and the last one was aged 25+ years. They served it over ice cream for us to taste one of them. OMG is all I can say.