After so many posts about photography gear, it’s time to shift gears and focus on some travel images again. When the borders reopened in Mainland China and Hong Kong, we immediately started to think about where to travel to. Thailand, Indonesia, Italy and Portugal were high on our list. When our good friend in Beijing moved the date of his wedding to Tuscany in October, our decision effectively was made!
Because the bride and groom hired a professional photographer, I don’t feel it appropriate to post any unofficial images from the wedding. I will note that the photographer, from Belgrade, was using a Fujifilm X-T4! Unfortunately, she got caught up in the airport strikes at the Milan Airport and was not able to attend the first day of the wedding. For that day, my partner and I pulled out our M11’s and captured some memories for the bride and groom.
Needless to say, there’s a reason why weddings in Tuscany are many couples’ dream wedding. It was truly magical with the sun setting, casting the perfect Tuscan golden hue on the outdoor ceremony. I felt like I was in a movie set from the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The couple had hired the whole venue at Castello Di Velona. The location of the hotel is ideally situated for a wedding ceremony as it’s perched on the cliff side, overlooking the Tuscan hills.
Right after the wedding weekend ended, we made our over to a winery that we have come to know about from a wine tasting in Hong Kong. Argiano Dimore is a small winery in Montalcino. Argiano Dimore’s wine making history began over 400 years ago. In 1967 Argiano made history with the Brunello of Montalcino, playing a key role as a founding organization in the birth of the Consortium.
In 2013, ownership of the winery was sold to Brazilian billionaire Andrè Esteves. He then went on to invest large sums of money to restore the buildings on site and to build a new boutique hotel addition so that people from around the world could come and enjoy the beauty of the winery and the taste of its famous Brunello wines. The style that Mr. Esteves chose for the new buildings is very tasteful and aligned to the natural environment around the winery.
It had always been a dream to spend a few nights at a winery and with the wedding in Tuscany and a few days before our planned trip to Florence, we booked three nights in Argiano Dimore. On the surface, the price seemed somewhat expensive, but as we would come to find, the service, food, wine, and overall experience, were second to none. While we were staying there, we felt like we were living in our castle, in our winery, and with our team to support us. It was amazing and highly recommended!
There are so many great things to say about this winery, but what unraveled below us as we descended down the stairs to the wine cellar was totally unexpected and jaw dropping. Mr. Esteves’ taste in design and architecture are stunning. The renovation of the cellar is a visual treat. From the spiral staircase with wine bottles on the outside perimeter to the visual eye candy and sensual mood of the perfectly lit environment, it was a totally enveloping and enthralling experience.
Mr. Esteves is clearly passionate about wine. His personal collection is mixed in with the winery’s own. The team shared with us that his collection, which is on display where you can touch and see it, has several bottles of Bordeaux worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. He feels that they should be accessible to anyone visiting or staying in the winery so they can share in his passion for wine. I love this kind of billionaire!
If you decide to stay at the winery, you can actually book a special occasion dinner (anniversary, birthday, etc.) to be hosted in the winery at a beautiful, locally sourced, huge wood table. While we didn’t have the opportunity to try this, I can imagine it would make for a very special memory indeed. Throughout our tour of the cellar, we were able to wander around, take as many pictures as we liked, and were never rushed. In fact, I think the team enjoyed how excited we were at the visuals. The winery has subsequently used some of our images on their social media platforms, which I think is fantastic.
Sala Ara Jani Restaurant
Being so close to Montalcino (10-20 mins drive), we didn’t expect to eat much at the winery, but decided to have a wine pairing dinner on one of the nights. In hindsight, we should have eaten at the winery every night. The food, service, wine pairing, and environment were just wonderful. I know this whole post sounds hyperbolic, but it really was very, very special.
Coming off a hard partying weekend at the wedding, our goal was to relax at Argiano Dimore. This was perfect as the winery grounds are vast and dead silent at night. You can take a bicycle from the winery and ride around Montalcino or trek around on feet and wander aimlessly around the grounds. We loved going for early morning walks, given that Italy was having an unseasonably warm fall with temperatures well into the mid 20’s in late October.
We chose a room in the newer building and it worked out very well. Each villa has four rooms which share a common area that includes a huge living room and another large room with a vast table and chairs. Each villa also has its own outdoor seating area and a semi-private place to hang out with friends or family. Our villa had a beautiful view from the outdoor area of the tuscan hills. When my brother from New York stopped by, it was fun to hang out together outdoors while drinking wine. That surreal feeling came back again of how fortunate we are to be able to experience something like this.
A big part of our very special experience at Argiano Dimore was a result of the exceptional service we received from the team. I’d like to highlight three people that we often interacted with that made us feel like this was our own castle and winery. Thank you to Martha, Gaia and Andurance (Eddie) for the warm welcome and amazing experience. They accommodated any of our requests with sincerity and a genuine desire to ensure we had the best experience possible. As you can tell, we will definitely be going back to Argiano Dimore again! I think it will become a ritual to stay there for a few nights to either start or end our future Italy adventures.