The Insider's Guide to Tasting Wines in the Piedmont: Wineries, Enoteche and Wine Shops

The area around Alba in the Piedmont region of northern Italy is a delightful area to visit, especially if you’re into wines. The hills surrounding Alba are home to some of the Piedmont's – and Italy's – biggest flavored and most famous red wines and some of its best white wines.  This is where the legendary Barolo and Barbaresco and other noteworthy wines like Barbera, Dolcetto, Arneis and Nebbiolo are produced. Within a relatively short distance of one another lie some of Italy’s most famous wine towns such as Barolo, La Morra, Dogliani, Serralunga d’Alba and Barbaresco.

And to top it off, the wines are not only plentiful and good but are downright bargains compared with U.S. prices.

Although a very scenic and tourist-friendly destination, it is not on most American tourists’ radar screens. The area is replete with vineyards, crenellated castles, medieval towers and View of Serralunga d'Albaunpretentious but scenic towns lying in repose on crests of gently rolling hills. It is also home to some of the Piedmont’s – and Italy’s – greatest restaurants where the local cuisines, while distinctly Italian, incorporate French culinary influences. The area around Alba is also renowned for its white truffles, chocolates, hazelnuts and artisanal cheeses.

Visiting Wineries
The vineyards are beautiful and visiting local wineries can be interesting and informative as well as a lot of fun. However, touring and sampling wines at local wineries is not the same as in the U.S. where wineries typically have posted hours and professionally staffed tasting rooms. Big wine estates are rare in the Piedmont. The vast majority are medium to small-scale producers that are typically family owned and operated enterprises and which are not staffed to handle casual, drop-in visitors.

Consequently, it’s appropriate to make reservations for a tasting and/or tour at most Piedmont wineries, usually with a minimum 2 -3 days advance notice. It would be risking disappointment to just drop in for a wine tasting and/or tour without an appointment, especially in the fall when wineries are extremely busy with the harvest and cellaring. Making an appointment also has the advantage that the winery may be able to arrange an English-speaking person to host the tasting and tour.

With appointment in hand, you will typically be hosted by someone active in and knowledgeable about the winery’s operations, oftentimes a member of the winemaker’s family. I have without exception found winery hosts in the Piedmont to be exceptionally hospitable and pleased to show you their winery’s products.

Wine tastings may be free or there may be a small fee for tasting wines. Regardless, it would be impolite to not purchase at least a few bottles of the estate’s wines. When I do so, I typically try to purchase wines that are not generally available in the U.S. on the assumption that this gives me bragging rights when I finally serve these wines to guests at home.

Thee are literally hundreds of wineries in the Piedmont. Below is a small sample of Piedmont wineries, arranged alphabetically, that welcome visitors for tours and tastings. Most produce and market a full range of red and white Piemontese wines from Arneis, Moscato and Dolcetto to Barbaresco, Barbera and Barolo wines in addition to some specialty wines and spirits like Chinato and Grappa. With few exceptions, reservations are requested. Phone, fax numbers and email addresses for purposes of reservations can be obtained from the accompanying websites.

Azienda Agricola Giuseppe Cortese, Strada Rabajà 80 – 12050 Barbaresco
www.cortesegiuseppe.it

Azienda Agricola Marcarini, Piazza Martiri, 2 – La Morra
www.marcarini.it

Azienda Agricola Marenco Aldo, Borgata Pironi, 25 - 12063 Dogliani
http://www.marencoaldo.it/

Azienda Agricola Paitin di Pasquero Elia, Via Serra Boella, 20 - 12052 Neive
paitin

Azienda Agricola Pecchenino, Borg. Valdiberti, 59 - 12063 Dogliani
pecchenino

Azienda Agricola Rivetto, Loc. Lirano 2 - 12050 Sinio
The estate’s wines can be sampled at it’s tasting room in Alba at Piazza Garibaldi, 2 – 12051 Alba but visits to the winery can also be made by appointment.
www.rivetto.it

Cantina Gigi Rosso, Strada Alba-Barolo, 20 – 12060 Castiglione Falletto
www.gigirosso.com

Castellari Bergaglio, Fraz. Rovereto, 136 – 15066 Gavi
castellari bergaglio

Ceretto Aziende Vitivinicole, Strada Provinciale Alba/Barolo, Località San Cassiano, 34 - 12051 Alba. Visitors can participate in either the regular scheduled guided tours with tastings at the Monsordo - Bernardina Estate in Alba at 10.00 a.m. or 3.00 p.m. or one of the estate’s personalized tour and tastings.
www.ceretto.com

Fontanafredda, Via Alba, 15 - 12050 Serralunga d’Alba
www.fontanafredda.it

Franco Molino, Frazione Annunziata 117 – Strada prov. N° 3 Alba-Barolo - 12064 La Morra
franco molino

Fratelli Serio e Battista Borgogno, Via Crosia, 12 Loc. Cannubi - 12060 Barolo
www.borgognoseriobattista.it

Marchesi di Barolo, Via Alba, 12 - 12060 Barolo
www.marchesidibarolo.com

Pio Cesare Azienda Agricola, Via Cesare Balbo 6 - 12051 Alba
www.piocesare.it

Prunotto, Località San Cassiano, 4/G – 12051 Alba
www.prunotto.it

Rocche Costamagna, Via Vittorio  Emanuele, 8 - 12064 La Morra
www.rocchecostamagna.it

Vietti, Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 5 – 12060 Castiglione Falletto
vietti

Enoteche
So how else can a visitor go about sampling the great local wines of the Piedmont? Fortunately, there are numerous enoteche (wine bars - plural of enoteca in Italian) where visitors can sample a variety of Piedmont wines. These enoteche are different than enoteche (wine bars or wine stores) located in every city and town in other regions of Italy. Unique to the Piedmont are numerous Enoteca Regionales that have wines of local producers for tasting and sale. They oftentimes offer brochures and maps of designated local, self-guided wine itineraries called Strade del Vino or “Wine Roads.”

The enoteche vary considerable in terms of locations, amenities and styles as well as number of wines available for tasting. Many enoteche are located in interesting buildings of some historic significance such as castles, palazzi (palaces) and, in a few cases, deconsecrated churches or chapels. Other enoteche are located in more modest but no less accommodating buildings where the décor can range from stylish to rustic. 

Some enoteche offer their own light fare to accompany the wines tasted while others may be associated with more formal restaurants where visitors can enjoy a full meal with the wine selections. The enoteche are generally open every day although hours of operation will vary and reservations are not required. They do have tasting fees which will vary depending on the number, variety and quality of wines offered.

Botteghe del Vino
The Piedmont also has a system of wine tasting and sales facilities called botteghe del vino (wine shops). The differences between the botteghe and the enoteche are primarily ones of size and scope. The botteghe are typically smaller, offer fewer amenities in terms of food and the wine selections are more focused in that they may specialize in the wines of a single producer, a local wine cooperative or wines of the local community. Their hours of operation are also more limited with many open only on weekends. Here you can sample wines by the glass or purchase wines by the bottle or case. While wine tastings at some botteghe are free most have fixed tasting fees or flexible fees based on what you consume. Some of the botteghe are run by vineyard owners and offer other estate-produced products in addition to the wines.

Listed below are some interesting Piedmont enoteche and botteghe in the area in and around Alba. The listing is by no means comprehensive and is meant to give you some idea of the variety and diversity of wine tasting facilities in the Piedmont.

Enoteca Regionale del Barbaresco
The Enoteca is hEnoteca Regionale del Barbaresco is in the deconsecrated chapel of San Donatooused in the deconsecrated, early-19th century chapel of San Donato. The Enoteca has Barbaresco-themed displays and a tasting bar featuring numerous Barbaresco wines as well as a selection of grappas. Extravagant tastings and numerous wine-related events are held here each year during the first week of September to celebrate the forthcoming harvest.
Hours of operation:
9:30 am to 6:00 pm
Sunday 9:30 am to 1:00 pm and 2:00 to 6:00 pm.
Closed on Wednesdays and all of January.
Piazza del Municipio, 7 - 12050 Barbaresco View Map
Ph: 0173.635251; email: enoteca@enotecadelbarbaresco.it
website: enoteca barbaresco

Enoteca Regionale del Barolo
Situated in the awe-inspiring medieval castle of Marchesi Falletti located in and owned by the commune (town or municipality) of Barolo, the Enoteca feDisplay of Barolos in the Enoteca Regionale del Baroloatures the numerous wines of the 11 communes that comprise the Barolo wine zone. Barolos as well as Barolo Chinato and grappas are available for sale. Guided tours of the castle and its history and culture museum are available.
Hours of operation:
10:00 am to 12:30 pm and 3:00 to 6:30 pm
Closed on Thursdays and all of January.
Piazza Falletti - 12060 Barolo View Map
Ph: 0173.56277; email: barolo@baroloworld.it
website:Enoteca del Barolo

Enoteca Regionale Colline del Moscato
The Enoteca is located in the old prison of 18th century Castle of Mango, located in the commune of Mango, approximately 8 miles due east of Alba. The Enoteca showcases Moscato d’Asti, Asti Spumanti, Moscato Passito, Moscato grappa as well as other wines and local products from the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato areas. The restaurant Del Castello is adjacent to the Enoteca and serves local food and wines.
Hours of operation:
Wednesday through Sunday: 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and the month of January.
Piazza XX Settembre - 12056 Mango View Map
Ph: 0141.892291; email: info@enotecamoscato.it
website: Enoteca Moscato website. (Italian only)

Enoteca Regionale di Acqui Terme
The Enoteca is located in the cellars of the 16th century Palazzo Robellini in the center of the commune of Acqui Terme, approximately 25 miles due east of Alba. The EnotecaEnoteca Regionale di Acqui Terme is located in the cellars of the 16th century Palazzo Robellini in Acqui Terme consists of several rooms in the Palazzo’s cellar with brick walls and stone-vaulted ceilings. The Enoteca stocks a wide range of wines from the upper Monferrato, including Brachetto d’Acqui, Dolcetto d’Acqui, Gavi, Dolcetto d’Ovada, Barbera d’Asti, Barbera del Monferrato and Moscato Passito, in addition to grappas and other locally-produced spirits.
Hours of operation:
9:30 am to 1:00 pm and 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm (Sundays 4:00 pm to 7 pm)
Closed on Mondays, Wednesdays and the month of January.
Piazza Abramo Levi, 7- 15011 Acqui Terme View Map
Ph: 0144.770273; email: enoteca@termeevino.it
website: enoteca acqui terme

Enoteca Regionale Piemontese Cavour
The Enoteca is located in the monumental, 13th century castle Grinzane Cavour that Castello di Grinzane Cavourwas once the home of the Count Cavour. Located approximately 5 miles south of Alba, the Enoteca was established in 1967, making it the oldest in the Piedmont. It brings together a broad selection of wines from the Piedmont but most notably Barolos and Barbarescos. On the top floors of the castle is a museum displaying ancient implements, handicrafts and furniture of the Alba area that is well worth visiting. On the floor above the Enoteca is the Grinzane Cavour Restaurant that is open for lunch and dinner every day except Tuesday.
Hours of operation:
April through October: 9:30 am to 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm
November through March: 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm
Closed Tuesdays and the month of January.
Castello di Grinzane Cavour, Via Castello, 5 - 12060 Grinzane Cavour View Map
Phone: 0173.262159;
email: info@castellogrinzane.com
website: www.castellogrinzane.com

Bottega del Vino Dolcetto di Dogliani
The wine shop is housed in the vaulted stone cellar of the 15th century Palazzo Communale in the commune of Dogliani, approximately 13 miles south and west of Alba. Here you can taste your way through dozens of Dolcetto wines from nearly 50 producers. Tastings are free.
Hours of operation:
Friday: 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Piazza S. Paolo, 9 - 12063 Dogliani View Map
Ph: 0173.742260; email:
info@bottegadelvino.org
website:
Bottega del vino Dolcetto (Italian only)

La Bottega dei Quattro Vini
The Bottega is in the center of the commune of Neive, one of three major Barbaresco communes. It is located in the cellar of the historic 18th century Neive town hall and has a large selection of Barbaresco, Barbera and other wines and food products from the surrounding area.
Hours of operation:
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 10:30 am to 1:00 pm and 2:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Closed Mondays, Tuesdays and the month of February.
Piazza Italia, 2 - 12052 Neive Ph: 0173.677014; email: info@bottegadei4vini.com
website: bottega dei quattro vini

Bottega del Vino di Novello
Located in the center of the commune of Novello, approximately 9 miles south of Alba. The wine shop is located in the crypt of a deconsecrated church of San Sebastiano.
Hours of operation:
Saturday: 3:00 to 6:00 pm
Sunday: 9:00 am 12:00 noon and 3:00 to 6:00 pm
Via Roma, 1 - 12060 Novello View Map
Ph: 0173.731147

Enoteca - Marchesi di Barolo
This award-winning winery has a historic enoteca with a “wine library” of one of the most complete selection of Barolo wines available, including old Barolos from 1938. The Enoteca and Vineria offer specialty wine tastings accompanied by samples of various local foods. Upstairs is a formal restaurant specializing in Piemontese cuisine accompanied by the estate’s wines for those who want a more elegant dining experience. Complimentary guided tours available but fees apply for tastings.
Hours of operation:
Open 7 days a week, 10:30 am to 5:30 pm
Closed  December 20th through March 1st and the month of August.
Via Rome, 1 - 12060 Barolo View Map
Ph: 0173.564491; email: info@marchesibarolo.com
website: Marchesi di Barolo

Enoteca del Roero
The Enoteca is located in an old palazzo in the center of Canale, a small town approximately 8 miles north of Alba. The Enoteca features wines from over 100 producers in the Roero and includes Roero Arneis, Barbera d’Alba and Favorita wines. Above the Enoteca is the elegant restaurant All’Enoteca, one of the Roero’s best restaurants (the restaurant’s website is www.davidepalluda.it).
Hours of operation:
9:30 am to 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Closed Wednesdays.
Via Roma, 57 - 10043 Canale View Map
Ph: 0173.978228; email: informazioni@enotecadelroero.it
website:enoteca del roero (Italian only)

Cantina Comunale di La Morra
La Morra is situated on the top of a hill in the heart of Barolo country. The Cantina Communale is housed in the 17th century cellars of the former Palazzo Falletti and serves as a public enoteca for 50 local wine producers. The enoteca offers Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera and, of course, Barolo wines for tasting and sale.
Hours of operation:
10:00 am to 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm
Closed Tuesdays
Via Carlo Alberto, 2 - 12054 La Morra View Map
Ph: 0173.509204; email: info@cantinalamorra.com
website:Cantina di La Morra (Italian only)

Enoteca del Monferrato
This enoteca is located in the ancient wine cellars of the 15th century Palazzo di Callori in the picturesque village of Vignale Monferrato, approximately 25 miles northeast of Alba. It serves a large number of first-rate Monferrato wines and local grappas but give particular emphasis to Barbera, Grignolino, Freisa and Malvasia wines. Adjacent to the Enoteca is the restaurant La Vineria dell’Enoteca which serves simple, traditional local dishes (only open during the summer). During the summer, Vignale Monferrato is the scene of an international ballet festival that features world-class ballet competitions as well as ballet classes, seminars and workshops.
Hours of operation:
Monday through Friday: 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm.
Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Closed during the month of January and some days in August.
Palazzo Callori, Piazza del Popolo, 7 - 15049 Vignale Monferrato View Map
Ph: 0142.933243; email: info@enotecadelmonferrato.it
website: enoteca del monferrato (Italian only)

Note – Information regarding the wineries and winebars reviewed is accurate as of the date of this posting. However, this is Italy and times and dates of operation can change with short notice. My recommendation is to avoid disappointment by by checking their websites and/or making reservations by phone or email.

For a list of recommended Piedmont restaurants to visit after touring the wineries and enoteche, see My Favorite Piedmont Restaurants.

©Richard Marcis
Updated July 24, 2014

 

 

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