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We are rarely disappointed with the Italian wines we choose to drink because we know the subject matter well and have visited many winemakers over the years. Our particular interest is in seeking out regional lesser-known wines that offer good value and visiting the winemaker at his or her place of work. For those readers who are used to visiting a winery where you often find that you know more about its wine than the intern that serves you, and where the winemaker is typically unavailable to visitors, we can’t tell you how much more interesting it is when you show up at a small azienda agricola and the owner/winemaker gives you a full hour or more of their time and talks to you about how he started out, his various grape experiments over the years and his many successes and lessons he's learned.

As one would expect, you often come away from these visits with some amusing stories. We had one old winemaker tell us in Bolgheri that he arrived there 45 years ago from Le Marche and bought a cheap plot of land to grow cabbages. Then lo and behold shortly after the now famous wine tasting in 1978 when the most internationally renowned Italian wine, Sassicaia, first achieved worldwide acclaim, he looked at his nearby plot of land in astonishment at his good fortune, promptly tore out his cabbages, planted vines, and has been a very happy vintner ever since.  From cabbages to Super Tuscans almost overnight!

In addition to being an Italian Sommelier, Elena is also a Level III Maestro'd'Olio and her lifelong passion for Italian olive oil means we are always seeking out the best regional olive oils to taste, write about and bring back to Lucca for our own use because we consume a lot of olive oil every year and we love how different they all are. The health benefits of extra virgin olive oil and the power of the best Italian oils to transform even the most humble dishes is still widely under appreciated in many countries and our mission in this section is to help change that.

We will post regular articles on both wine and olive oil so readers can hunt down those same bottles wherever they live or perhaps even buy them directly from Italy. But to enjoy the same delightful experiences you’ll have to come over to Italy and visit for yourselves some of the small interesting artisan winemakers and olive oil producers.

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