While I've learned so much and will forever sing praises about DaVinci Chianti, Brunello, and Pinot Grigio (my favorite!), the biggest takeaway from this experience has been discovering all of the people and stories that make this brand so genuine. It's less about the wine (as delicious as it is) and more about the story and people behind it.
Being able to meet locals, learn their craft, and practice my broken Italian has been such a humbling experience. One of my favorite moments was meeting the cheesemaker, Francesco, and asking him how he learned to make cheese. His response was simply, "ho chiesto" (I asked).
We were fortunate to experience Franco and Anna's kindness every day when they prepared breakfast for us and made us feel at home at the Casale. Giacomo, DaVinci brand ambassador and Wine Educator, made us experts in Chianti and hosted several amazing meals (I still daydream about our porcini dinner), and taught us that prosecco trumps cava any day. Lorenzo, the DaVinci agronomist in Montalcino, taught us all about Brunello di Montalcino-- from showing us how it's made and all the way to introducing us to the co-op farmers who grow the grapes. The adorable Rosanna and Bruno, growers for the Cantine de Leonardo da Vinci for more than 30 years, welcomed us into their home, told us about their life as growers, and somehow still find time to go dancing every week! Last but not least, our experience certainly wouldn't have been the same without the beautiful Carolina, our professional tour guide, traipsing all over Tuscany with us-- connecting us with the locals, teaching us the history of everywhere we went and translating along the way (and she had the most adorable pup named Dixie).
Because of all of these people, I've learned that quality comes not only from tradition, but also passion. Italy is a special place in that tradition and passion are one in the same.
As a 2014 DaVinci Storyteller, this post was written in partnership with DaVinci Wine.