Emilia-Romagna is a region made of equal parts tradition and innovation, and the wine of Umberto Cesari reflect this blend of past and future. The industrious region of Emilia-Romagna is one of the richest in Italy, known for its “Motor Valley” auto manufacturers and excellent traditional cuisine. Home to iconic Italian car and motorcycle makers like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Ducati, and birthplace of some of Italy's finest gourmet specialties—Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Aceto Balsamico di Modena all hail from here, as well as ravioli, ragù, and mortadella—this area stretching across northern Italy from the wooded Apennine Mountains along the fertile Po River valley to the Adriatic coast is the perfect destination for everyone from gearheads to gourmands. What many travelers don't realize, however, is that in addition to its chic racers and succulent pastas, Emilia-Romagna also produces excellent wines, each unique to a particular terrain and microclimate. A perfect example of these characteristically local wines are those produced by Umberto Cesari—a historic winery located in Castel San Pietro Terme along the ancient Roman Via Emilia straddling the hills between the inland area of Emilia and the coastal Romagna—known for its terroir-driven blends and monovarietals that are among the most prestigious in the region. The Grand Wine Tour is a mark of excellence in hospitality distinguishing Italian wineries. Umberto Cesari Winery Umberto Cesari The winery was founded in the early 1960's by Umberto Cesari and his wife, who recognized the singular quality of the terroir along the rolling hillsides that border with Tuscany. The temperate climate in this area is due to a chain of protective “calanchi”—steep ravines created by millennia of wind and water erosion—that shelter the countryside from cold winds and extreme temperatures. Known locally as the “Calanchi Azzurri” due to their bluish hue, this defensive barrier of clay slopes has enabled Umberto Cesari to explore the potential of the Sangiovese grape over the decades, as well as maintaining a commitment to the historic local varietals native to this area. From their original 20 hectares of vineyard, Umberto Cesari has expanded to 175 hectares owned by the winery, in addition to 180 hectares rented from neighboring estates. Today Umberto Cesari winery includes six separate vineyards—Casetta, Parolino, Ca' Grande, Laurento, Liano and Tauleto—each planted with a varietal carefully chosen based on the area's specific terroir and sun exposure: red grapes, particularly Sangiovese DOC, are planted facing southwest; whites, instead, face northeast. Looking for a day trip to Emilia-Romagna's wine country? Umberto Cesari is just 40 minutes from the center of Bologna, and 50 minutes from Ravenna. You can also break up a day of traveling between Florence and Venice with a stop at the winery, located almost exactly halfway between these two popular destinations. The Fruit of the Land In addition to recognizing the unique quality of the land and climate, Umberto Cesari was also the first producer in Emilia-Romagna to understand the potential of the Sangiovese grape. The most widely planted varietal in Italy, Umberto Cesari cellars Sangiovese can be found in everything from table wines to prestigious blends, but Umberto Cesari was dedicated to producing world-class Sangiovese DOC monovarietal wines, which have become the cornerstone of the winery's philosophy and production. In addition to cultivating and promoting quality Sangiovese labels, the winery also understands the importance of maintaining the production of traditional regional varietals like Trebbiano, Albana di Romagna and Pignoletto, and experimenting with international varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Grapes are overwhelmingly harvested by hand, vinified exclusively in the winery's modern cellar, and, in the case of the wineries most prestigious reds, aged in their 600 barrels, tonneaux, and barriques. Umberto Cesari offers three different wine tours in Italian, English, French, German, and Spanish each Tuesday through Friday: Wine & Surroundings (tasting of three wines with light gourmet finger foods) Pleasures of the Palate (tasting of four wines with local gourmet specialties) Our Cru Wines (tasting of four Cru labels paired with gourmet dishes) Each includes a guided walk through the vineyards, a tour of the winery and cellar, and a seated tasting in the elegant tasting room. Book your winery tour and tasting with The Grand Wine Tour today! Tradition and Innovation Umberto Cesari wines reflect their founder's long-standing passion for quality that combines an understanding of the Umberto Cesari Wine Shop unique local terroir, a respect for traditional winemaking techniques, and a willingness to experiment with innovative technologies. From this perfect balance come a collection of wines that are distinctive both for their quality and their local character. From the light-hearted Iove wines featuring both native and international grape varieties and labelled in lively colors, stately monovarietals highlighting Emilia Romagna's traditional Sangiovese, Pignoletto, and Albana grapes, art-inspired creative MOMA DOC and IGT labels, and sophisticated Laurento, Yemula, Liano, and Liano Bianco experimental blends, to the award-winning Tauleto, named in 2003 and 2007 the Best Sangiovese at the IWSC of London: Umberto Cesari represents the heart of Emilia-Romagna, equal parts past and future. Want to bring the flavor of Emilia-Romagna home with you? Stop in Umberto Cesari's wine shop, where you can purchase wines directly from the vineyard, including their excellent dessert wine and grappa, along with other gourmet treats from the surrounding region including Aceto Balsamico di Modena or delicate Cervia sea salt. Open Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 6 pm; Saturday 9 am to 6 pm.