Saturday, April 16, 2016

Day 9: Collo Verde winery and farewell dinner

Wine does not make you fat. Wine makes you lean. Against doors, walls, tables, and occasionally,  ugly people.
                       ----- Anonymous
The vines of Collo Verde winery. They produce about 6000 cases a year, mostly sangiovese. 
Today we visited the final winery of the trip, Collo  Verde. The name means green hills and as you see above, it certainly is a verdant drive over. The trees are in bloom and there are flowers everywhere.
This winery produces 4000 liters of olive oil annually and also rents apartments short term.
Collo  Verde, like most Italian  wineries,  is a family owned, handmade operation.  In addition, to wine, they press extra virgin  olive oil on the property. Producing olives is a year round job. The whole time we've  been here, the surrounding groves have been pruning and burning the smaller  branches.  The big ones get stored for fire wood. 

A view of a "country villa" above the winery

They gave us a look at the sophisticated oil press which presses and separates components. They then store olive oil in stainless steel for several months for further separation.

The last step in filtering and bottling. It takes about a month, usually in April to bottle 4000 by hand. It's a wonder good olive oil isn't more expensive.  I just learned not to complain.  Each tree will yield about 4 bottles.

After  showing us how olive oil makes  its way to our kitchen, they gave us a tour of their winery as well. Below are the big barrels of sangiovese. These are large enough that you could literally stand inside of one. These they keep ad infinitum and just clean out between uses. The Syrah barrels are replaced every 3 to 7 years.

No matter where we've gone, the flowers have been stunning and plentiful. I could write an entire blog just on the flora. 

The wine guide also showed us a plant called cedro, a member of the lemon family , but larger, sweeter and definitely  on steroids! 

Paul received some cat therapy as well. This guy took an extreme liking to my honey bunny, but some other cat was not enamored of Paul's buddy. He had a large wound on his neck. 

One nice thing about visiting a winery here, is that you get lunch along with your samples. They set the table beautifully. Fortunately the lunches are very light and fresh.

We tasted the sangiovese and the reserve Syrah.  Both were highly drinkable. Then we were off to the driver, Mauro's private home which is in an old church. He wanted to serve as a special type of Limoncello which is made by his mother. It has cream in it. I'll have to say it was very tasty. Also we got to meet his aunt Uncle cousin and other extended members of the family as well as their seven-month-old Giant Schnauzer. He was a rambunctious puppy that is approximation the size of a horse. The photo below is members of the group enjoying limocello on Mauro's uncle's porch.

When we got back, Paul took a nap to treat his allergies which has probably been caused by all the beautiful flowers and Blossoms. I took a walk back up to the Cross because I knew we were going to get a big dinner prepared by the gentleman below. His name is Gimmi. He used to own a restaurant in Verona, but we got the pleasure of having him as a private chef.

Fortunately, it was only a four-course meal but we were all stuffed at the end of it. We had spring pea and mint soup, asparagus risotto,  braised  veal and mashed potatoes, and sabayon vin santo. Crazy luscious! 

Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to our new Walla Walla buddies who were leaving at 430am for Florence's airport. And in the morning,  it will be a sad goodbye to our view from the Villa Leonidas.  

But I am grateful for 10 days of fun, education, relaxation,  and quality time with my hubby.

" Open my heart and you will find engraved inside of it a single word: Italy."
-----Robert Browning

Paul's  ponderings:  The winery visited today was similar to the others, very small and family-centric, which is delightful to see.   It was particularly interesting to see how the olive oil is prepared and bottled.   The cream limoncello at our driver Mauro's place was also great -- not everyone gets to live in a former church and (Italian bonus) it has plenty of parking!   We continued our steady reign of warm and sunny weather as well.   It was all capped by a dinner on the terrace made for us by a local chef and wine steward, Gimmi.  Tomorrow we have to be out "early", which means 10 am here!

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