Wine Tours of Southern Italy
Let’s get one thing straight, Tuscan Wines are good, but the buck doesn’t stop with Brunello. There are many other excellent wines throughout Italy. The vineyards surrounding Napoli and the larger region of Campania are a good place to start if you are interested in the ancient history of grapes and Italy. Also a winsome region if you like getting sauced.
About 12,000 years ago, an underground volcano in the Campi Flegrei (Burning Fields) outside of modern day Naples, exploded. This was no ordinary volcanic event. The volcano rather spectacularly erupted causing permanent continental shifts that resulted in the Eurasian landmass we see today. The volcano is still active. She sits in an underground caldera outside of Napoli’s city center and rings around the gulf of Naples. Twenty-four craters and gassy fumaroles decorate the area now. The caldera could blow at any time, and if she does, not only will I be dead in Naples but likely everyone reading this will be as well!
The Burning Fields is also where Virgil’s reported entrance to the underworld can be found in the crater lake of Averno. That is reason enough to enjoy an afternoon tipple of chilled Falanghina and perhaps just a touch of salami. If you give a mouse a cookie, or this lady a glass of Falanghina, this could easily turn into another ancient myth of the Sisyphean variety.
The volcanic character of the soil here is certainly why the wines of this region display characteristic verve and minerality. Several thousand years after the whopping Phlegrean eruptions, Greek mariners traveled to the area in 800 B.C. Along with boats and bronze weaponry, they also brought grapes. The two most famous modern relatives of those grapes are the Falanghina and the Aglianico, which means Hellenic.
By the time of Roman rule, the Burning Fields were considered one of the best wine regions in the empire. Many ancient Roman villas can be found today in the Phlegrean towns of Baccoli and Baiae. An entire section of the ancient town of Baiae sunk into the sea in a subsequent volcanic eruption 1,700 years ago and can be visited today by scuba diving.
Rest assured, we won’t be scuba diving on the Sauced & Found wine tour. In our case, Massimo Florio, sommelier and President of the Regione Campania Wine Association joins Sauced & Found on historic wine tours as we eat, drink and toddle through this ancient region.
We offer wine tours of the Campi Flegrei, the Amalfi Coast and Avellino. Overnight tours to Ischia are available upon advanced request. Tours last the entire day and include an educational vineyard and viticulture walk, cellar tour, MANY wine tastings and a full Italian lunch. We can also combine wine tastings with vists to ancient archeological sites upon request. The tour concludes with a presentation and educational regional wine tasting at Massimo’s Enoteca, Calici. Sauced & Found also offers extensive Regione Campania Wine Masters Tours, which last between three and five days upon advanced request.
Caution: you will get sauced, but with Massimo and Kristin’s help, you won’t get lost!