For nearly three centuries, workers serving the nobility at Castello Banfi in Tuscany lived in a small hamlet within the castle grounds. In 2007, however, the stone houses within their tiny village were completely renovated under the direction of Italian interior designer Federico Forquet, catapulting Castello Banfi into a new era of grandeur. Today, the property welcomes guests from November through March in two guest rooms and 12 suites, each with wood-beamed ceilings, countryside views, and bathrooms stocked with “vinotherapy” products made from the estate’s Sangiovese Brunello. A central garden with a pergola, a heated outdoor pool, secluded lounging spaces, and alfresco massage tents offer plenty of ways to take in the surrounding vineyards. If you’re feeling more active, take a cooking class with the chef (held a short drive away at the estate farmhouse), tour the Banfi winery, or venture out to nearby historic towns like Montalcino and Siena.
Castello Banfi Il Borgo, Montalcino, Italy
Make this your home base for exploring the wineries of Tuscany or taking on-site cooking and wine classes. If you’re just interested in eating delicious food, book a reservation for the tasting menu at La Taverna restaurant, with estate wine pairings for each course.
In the late 1970s, two Italian American brothers joined forces with a noted Italian enologist to create a label that would eventually help elevate the perception of Italian wine throughout the world. Banfi now owns vineyards in multiple locations, but the heart of the operation is at the Castello complex, where you’ll find a hotel, vineyards, a restaurant and enoteca, a Museum of Wine and The Bottle, a balsameria (where balsamic vinegar is produced), and—about three miles down the road from the main hub—a state-of-the-art winery that’s open to visitors. The one-hour guided tours take you through the facility, explaining more about the label’s history and the winemaking process; tastings of the full range can be enjoyed back at the enoteca (for a fee), while rustic dishes are paired nicely with the vintages at the Taverna. Tours are available Monday to Friday, and times vary depending on the season—so it’s best to call ahead or make a reservation.