For a true Italian wine experience, explore the land on your own two feet and take a vineyard hike.
The best way to appreciate a wine is to immerse yourself in its story and its sense of place. Easy enough to do with a winery tour and tasting, especially in Italy. Here, the winemakers themselves or someone closely involved with winery life and production will show you the ropes, making a winery visit in Italy a well-rounded experience that often takes up to several hours. But we suggest you dig even deeper. We mean: explore the land on your own two feet and map out a few vineyard walks and hikes.
Italy has done a fantastic job at creating wine routes, roads, and trails all up and down the peninsula. Some are created and maintained by the region, others by wine consortia, and just a handful by the wineries, themselves. We’re going to take a look at the latter, in particular a trail in one of Italy’s most beautiful and historical winemaking regions, also part of a UNESCO World Heritage: the Roero.
Ancient history and classic wines from Piedmont
The winery in question is Tenuta Carretta, located in Piobesi d’Alba in the Roero territory of Piedmont—where nebbiolo, hazelnuts, and truffles have provided farmers and vine-growers with a viable economy for centuries. The estate, in fact, has an incredible 550 years of history behind it, one of the oldest in the entire region. Today, the Miroglio family owns and manages the winery, where they make a wide selection of wines from their 70 ha (173 acres) of vineyard property: Barolo, Barbaresco, and Roero crus, Roero Arneis, and classic Piedmontese wines made from barbera, dolcetto, moscato, cortese, and favorita.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Generally, a good idea is to go vine trekking before a wine tasting, as the desire to do physical activity may wane in relation to how many wines are tasted. But don’t worry—the trail passes through their vineyards for a quick 2.1 km (1.3 mi) loop that can easily be done in an hour and 45 minutes, at basically all levels of fitness. The perfect hike to stimulate your taste buds.
All the details for fun vine trekking in the Roero
The trail, a sunny, dirt path, is called the Grape’s Road, and loops around the winery through a verdant labyrinth of vineyards with several great lookout points and easy-to-follow signs. For a point-by-point description of each spot (in Italian), check out the description here.
The trail begins at Campolungo on the eastern angle of Tenuta Carretta with a fantastic view over a vineyard hill call Bric Paradiso, which we will arrive at presently. You’ll begin with barbera vines to your left and arneis to your right as you take off towards the next stop, Altena della Fontana, where once a fountain was positioned. Here, as the etymology of “Altena” hints, the vines were trained up trees and along branches to provide ample space below for cultivating crops and plants, centuries ago.
After passing Terrazze, you’ll head up to Bric Paradiso. Take a breather: this is the highest altitude you’ll have to climb for the trail! All the vines here are nebbiolo, which go into Tenuta Carretta’s Roero “Bric Paradiso” DOCG Riserva—a fine 100% nebbiolo wine with aromas of incense, licorice, vanilla, and ripe fruit, pleasantly tannic and harmonic in the mouth.
Next, you’ll pass through the arneis vineyards of Camporosso, whose name comes from the color of its red soils, rich in clay, and on towards Bric Quercia (bric means the “peak” of a hill in Piedmontese dialect). Here, you’re in the company of the “Lady in Red,” or barbera, for Barbera d’Alba Superiore “Bric Quercia” DOC—with aromas of marasca cherries, ripe fruit, a slight vanilla undertone, and rich, velvety sensations in the mouth. At the top of this hill is one of the best views of the hike: 180° of wine country.
At this point, you’re at the last leg of your walk and probably thirsting for a glass of the wines whose vineyards you’re trekking through. After the Maddalena signpost, you’ll reach the vineyards that mark a historical point of Tenuta Carretta: Podium Serrae, cited in a sharecropping concession from 1467, in which the wine made from these grapes was specifically reserved for the lord of the estate, such was the quality. Today, not just lords and ladies may enjoy the Langhe Nebbiolo “Podio” DOC of Tenuta Carretta—with a bouquet of dried flowers, fruit, vanilla, and spices, the wine is elegant with soft tannins.
Pra’ Fornice is the very last vineyard and stop on this little trek, where arneis is grown for the Roero Arneis “Cayega” DOCG, fruity and floral with great structure and drinkability.
All-around pampering at Tenuta Carretta: winery visits, food, & wine
To enjoy the vineyard views of this very approachable hike, you certainly aren’t required to do a winery visit and tasting—but give us one good reason why you wouldn’t! As the hike ends back at the winery, it’s the perfect opportunity to stop for a visit and tasting; or to simply browse the Wine Shop for a tasty selection of Piedmontese products: honey, pastas and sauces with truffle, chocolates, sweet gianduja spreads; and a large selection wines that goes beyond the winery’s range.
Feeling hungry after your exertions? There is even the Restaurant 21.9 on-site, run by Michelin-starred chef Flavio Costa. It features intimate nooks, larger areas, and a terrace with fantastic views. The menu is a combination of the chef’s Ligurian upbringing and Piedmontese training, with fresh sea flavors mingling with seasonal products. And, for the ultimate wine immersion experience—because this was our goal from the beginning—you may even choose to stay in the luxury hotel of Tenuta Carretta, which features ten positively stunning suites; they’re named after their vineyards, naturally.
Visit the wineries