Located at the heart of Tuscan wine country, Gaiole in Chianti is a tranquil Tuscan village these days but in medieval times it had great strategic importance, a fact borne out by the string of defence castles nearby, including Brolio, Vertine and Barbischio. The turreted, stone-built Castle of Meleto was first mentioned in 1256, when it was the property of the powerful Florentine Ricasoli family, and it has long been associated with wine making.
One of the leading attractions on tours of the Chianti wineries, the interior of the Castle of Meleto can be toured three times a day, with attractions including fabulously frescoed rooms, an 18th-century theater and the old wine cellars. Its vineyards are open for tours and the vinoteca for tasting sessions of award-wining red Chianti Classico as well as a sparkling rosé. Other gourmet specialties produced on the estate are also for sale, include grappas, olive oils and prosciutto from the castle’s rare Cinta Senese pigs. As well as the La Fornace di Meleto restaurant serving up Tuscan dishes, the Meleto estate also offers apartments and rooms to let, with the use of two pools, and is a popular venue for weddings.
Località Castello di Meleto, Gaiole di Chianti. Wine shop open late Mar–mid Oct daily 10am–6pm. Guided tours of the castle (book in advance) all year around daily at 11.30am, 3.30pm and 5pm; tickets €15 per person. The Castle of Meleto is 40 minutes northeast of Siena by car; take the A1 and exit at Valdichiana.