Wine tour to Puglia, Apulia, Italy’s heel: southern sun, baroque splendour and primitivo
— Apulia, the long Italian heel, attracts visitors with sun, sea, charming fishing villages, stunning baroque cities and, not least, with its powerful and flavourful wines. There has been a veritable quality revolution in the last 20 years here in Apulia! On this tour we will get to know Apulia’s pride, the primitivo grape, but also many other local grape varieties. We stay three nights in Lecce, one of Italy’s most spectacular cities, plus one night in Bari and we will enjoy southern Italy’s delicious food.
Next wine tour to Puglia:
Italy is not a very big country. But the differences between the northern and southern parts are sometimes gigantic. The wines from Southern Italy have for a long time been over-shadowed by the big names in the north. Not so any more.
The renewed interest in Southern Italy applies not only to the culture and gastronomy but also very much to the wines. It started with primitivo and the debate about the grape’s kinship with the Californian Zinfandel.
Suddenly primitivo became a grape to be reckoned with. Now we have a trio of interesting grapes in Puglia: Primitivo, Nero di Troia and Negroamaro.
The wines are often powerful and full-bodied. You can tell that they have 1000 hours (!) more sun than the rest of the country. It is important to get a good balance between alcohol, acidity and fruit. The talented producers pass the test with flying colours. With modern technology and skilled winemaking craftsmanship they coax out more flavour and personality and a little less heat and punch in the wines.
We meet in Bari, a beautiful city on the Adriatic Sea, easy to reach by plane. We stay in Bari the first night at an excellent hotel. Our five-star hotel is very elegant and is located right on the water.
The subsequent nights we stay in the splendid baroque city of Lecce in the Salento region in the southernmost part of Apulia, maybe southern Italy’s most beautiful city.
The ornately decorated façades of the countless churches, baroque palaces and other buildings are typical of Lecce. It is a true joy to walk around town and enjoy the splendour while looking for a nice restaurant. It is with good reason Lecce is on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
We enjoy three lunches together as private guests at wineries on this tour. The gastronomic specialities of Puglia are numerous. Some come from the sea, of course, but there are also many pasta dishes, such as orecchiette (“little ears”).
The grilled lamb is a delicacy and one should not miss the local pecorino or fresh burrata (a luxury variant of mozzarella). The food may sometimes be rustic fare or lighter fish and vegetable dishes but it is always tasty made with the freshest ingredients. The desserts are often made with almonds and honey.
Join us on this journey of discovery among southern Italy’s great wines and delicious food!
The tour is led by one of BKWine’s wine and travel expert guides.
We have written a lot about Puglia and about wine touring in the region, what to do and what to expect.
Here you can find more about travelling in the Puglia wine region.
You can also find more information on the wines from Puglia on BKWine Magazine.
Program — wine tour to Puglia, Italy’s heel
This is a sample program, an example. Every wine and food tour that we organise is different and specially adapted for the season and the circumstances. Details in the program, e.g. which producers we visit, will be different each time.
Contact BKWine for more details.
- Day 1, Wednesday — Arrival in Bari
- Day 2, Thursday — Brindisi, Gioia del Colli, Lecce
- Day 3, Friday — Salento
- Day 4, Saturday — Manduria
- Day 5, Sunday — Heading back home
Wednesday, day 1 — Arrival in Bari
Arrival in Bari according to your own travel plans any time during the day. Check in at our centrally located five-star hotel, with its feet in the water just off the waterside promenade.
Bari, Puglia’s “capital”, is a charming little city with its 300,000 inhabitants and a big harbour. There is much to see and to discover: the cathedral built in the 11th century, then destroyed and rebuilt in 1170 (!), the fishing harbour and the elegant shore-side promenade, palatial buildings and narrow alleys. In short, it is a glorious mix of southern Italy’s culture and history.
There are plenty of restaurants proudly presenting the tasty Apulian gastronomy, pasta (orecchiette, recchietelle, strascinate, chiancarelle, cavatelli…), vegetables, olive oil and so on. An original version is the fried pasta!
The evening is free for a walk in the old city centre. An aperitivo at a café and a late dinner at an outdoor restaurant? Don’t be surprised if it is still summer weather down here even late in the autumn!
Thursday, day 2 — Brindisi, Gioia del Colli, Lecce
We board the bus after breakfast and head south. It is in the southern part of Puglia that the most remarkable quality development has taken place in recent years.
Despite the hot summer temperatures, the vines thrive thanks to winds coming in from two directions, from the Adriatic Sea in the east and the Ionian Sea in the west. Their grape varieties are also particularly resistant to hot weather.
We travel through a nature which is at times barren and where they mainly grow vines and ancient gnarled olive trees. 40% of Italy’s olive oil comes from Apulia and olive trees are almost everywhere. But we also see vegetable and wheat fields. Apulia supplies the rest of the country with huge amounts of fresh vegetables and durum wheat to make pasta.
The soil is mainly limestone in Apulia. Here and there we see, among the olive groves and almond trees, pretty whitewashed houses.
We start the day with a visit to the inland, near the town of Martina Franca. The Tenute Girolamo is a family estate with 50 hectares which was created in 2000.
Tenute Girolamo makes several interesting primitivo wines in different styles, with or without oak ageing. The vineyards are at 400 meters altitude. The temperature drops at night, thus preserving the acidity in the wine.
The family invests heavily in quality, for instance by increasing the planting density in the vineyard, sometimes to as much as 12,000 vines per hectare.
We then continue out towards the coast. We make a stop to enjoy a good lunch and get an introduction to matching the food from Puglia with the local wines.
After lunch we visit the Tenute Rubino winery. The estate has 200 hectares in four different locations, all near the city of Brindisi.
The main grape here is Negroamaro. Its expression depends much on where on the large property the grapes have grown. They have, in fact, a variety of microclimates. White wines are quite rare in Apulia, 80% are red, but Rubino makes some very good white wines from the Vermentino and Malvasia Bianco grapes.
Early evening we check into our hotel in the beautiful city of Lecce. We stay in a 4-star hotel in the heart of the old town.
The evening is free for you to enjoy the city. Two steps outside the hotel and you are in the middle of the stunning old town.
Friday, day 3 — Salento
The bus picks us up in the morning at the hotel. Today we will visit the wine district of Salento.
Salento is the name of the area around Lecce. Negroamaro is the main grape here. It is really truly hot during the growing season. Fortunately, the soil is such that it preserves the acidity and freshness of the wines. And they have a high proportion of old vines, often over 90 years old, with long roots.
Sometimes they harvest the grapes very late and some even let the grapes dry for some time before pressing. Those wines have a lot of similarities with an amarone.
We make three interesting visit here, around the town of Salice Salentino. We visit, among others the Conti Zecca family dating back to 16th century Naples. Today it is three brothers who take care of the family’s 325 hectares.
The grapes are Negroamaro and Primitivo, but also Cabernet Sauvignon, Malvasia and Aglianico. Aglianico comes from Basilicata and gives a very good, elegant and flavourful wine.
When lunchtime approaches we head to the impressive Castello Monaci. The castle, that is also a winery, dates from the 15th century and looks like an ancient knight’s castle. The lunch at the castle is a selection of Apulian specialities presented along with the winery’s wines.
The grapes withstand the heat well, with just a little irrigation. The wines have both elegance and structure.
In the afternoon, we have time for one more vineyard visit.
Late afternoon we are back in Lecce. Free evening.
Lecce is probably one of Italy’s most magnificent cities. The old city centre is filled with Baroque palaces and churches. The cathedral is impressive. Everything is extremely well preserved and strangely with comfortably few tourists! Among the narrow streets there are of course many small restaurants, both fancy luxury restaurants and simple wine bars.
Saturday, day 4 — Manduria
Today we will visit the Primitivo stronghold, Manduria. We will have a short ride on the bus from Lecce in the morning.
Primitivo had its breakthrough in the wine world in the 1990s. At first, it was mostly about easy-drinking wines that you chugged down without much thought. Then it was discovered that Primitivo and the Californian Zinfandel is basically genetically the same grape.
Primitivo rose through the ranks and became recognized as a quality grape and was on its way to fame. In competent hands Primitivo gives superb wines with a southern warm fruit.
We visit, among others, the Attanasio family with Giuseppe, the father, at the helm. He runs a small property with his wife and two sons. Careful crop-thinning guarantees high quality. Here (too) the primitivo is made in different versions, some of them award-winning.
We enjoy a delicious lunch at the Masseria Le Fabriche, a winery near Manduria. The restaurant is nicely situated amidst the vines. The old farm house has been renovated with care including some modern design touches.
We eat a magnificent lunch with many local specialities. We begin with their delicious home-made bread and local olives and continue with stuffed zucchini and eggplant, pepperoni fritti, potato and pecorino pie, local vegetables, puree of broad beans and much more. Then we are served the veal and we finish with fruit.
Keep some space for the amazing almond cakes that will arrive towards the end! A very typical lunch in Apulia. We will taste the estate’s excellent wines throughout lunch.
The winery and farm is run by a very ambitious woman who has pushed the estate to become one of the best in the region. The family did not easily accept that the daughter would run a vineyard. Not so common this far south. But she had made up her mind. And a great success it has become!
We have time for one final afternoon visit to one more winery in Manduria.
Late afternoon we return to Lecce, the Pearl of the South of Italy.
The evening is free. A last walk on the winding streets paved with a thousand years old stones? A visit to the Roman arena in the main square? Another wine bar and then finish the evening at one of the city’s charming restaurants?
Sunday, day 5 — Return home
After an early breakfast at the hotel in Lecce we drive up to Bari. We leave you at the airport in time for your flight. But it is not a bad idea to stay a few extra days in the lovely city of Bari!
The program may be subject to minor modifications.
Tour Details — Puglia (Apulia) Southern Italy wine tour
Price per person: This is a sample program. Look in the menu “Our Tours > Scheduled Tours” to check what scheduled tours are currently on the program or contact us to discuss a custom made private wine tour.
Included in the price:
- 4 hotel nights, double occupancy, including breakfast:
- 1 nights in Bari at a 5-star hotel
- 3 nights in Lecce at a 4-star hotel
- Meals as described in the program above (*):
- 3 gastronomic multi-course lunches with local specialities, including tasting of several wines, one as guests at a winery or in a restaurant
- Start and end point: Bari
- Bus transport during the whole trip
- All vineyard and winery visits
- Private, high quality tastings at wineries, approx. 3 visits per day
- Interpretation from Italian as needed, some visits may be in English
- Wine guiding and wine tutoring by an expert BKWine guide
(*) See below for more important information on our meals.
- Travel (flights) to the destination and back from your home location.
You organise your travel to Bari yourself. If you want assistance with organising your flight tickets etc, please contact us.
We warmly recommend that you plan a few extra days here if you have the time! It is a very interesting place and well worth some “non-wine” tourism too! We can assist you with booking additional hotel nights if you want.
For this trip to take place we must have a minimum of XX participants registered at the “book before” date.
Book This Trip
You book by contacting Britt Karlsson, BKWine:
- phone: +33 1 58 88 04 66 or +33 6 80 45 35 70 (+33 is the country code for France)
- Skype: “bkwine”. Call us on skype.
- email: email@example.com
More on our wine tours
About the wine producers and wineries we visit
Our aim is that you shall experience some of the best and most interesting that the wine region has to offer, both of wine and food.
We put a big effort into finding and creating outstanding winery visits. Often it will not be the most “famous” and internationally well-known wineries that will give you the best and most unique experiences…
It is usually when you get to meet the winemaker or winery owner himself (or often herself) that the visits become really exciting. And perhaps we even meet the whole family at the estate.
You start discussing and start to understand what it is they do and why in the winery and in the vineyard. Maybe we will also have lunch in the winery or at their home. Need we say we invariably have private wine tastings at the wineries?
That is why our trips are not “jam packed” with visits at wineries. Nevertheless we often run short of time since the discussions – and the wine tastings – can easily become very engaging…
Our wine country tours typically include a mix of small family producers, exclusive boutique wineries and larger internationally well-known wine estates, all selected with great care so that it will give you a unique experience of the people and of the behind-the-scenes in the winery and a good understanding of the wine district’s characteristics, tradition and culture.
At the time of publishing a travel program not all visits have been finalised. We are continuously working on improving the program. The domaines / wineries / châteaux that we visit on a tour may therefore sometimes differ from what was written in the original program. Contact us if you want more details, or if you have any special requests.
On meals: food and gastronomy
Wine and food are intimately linked. That is part of our wine travel philosophy; wine is an integral part of the gastronomy.
A wine tour with BKWine will therefore also be a gastronomic experience.
The meals that are included in a tour with BKWine are on a gourmet level and of very high standard.
Sometimes we will have a meal with a winemaker, perhaps in the wine cellar or at the winery, or even in their home. This is a unique experience that is generally not open to other visitors to wineries. It is an occasion to experience exciting combinations of food and wine while discussing with the people who made the wine.
Sometimes we will have a luxurious meal at a gourmet restaurant. At other times it may be not at a prestigious luxury address but at a local restaurant selected for its presentation of local gastronomic specialities, its atmosphere and its quality – a place where locals go. Or perhaps it will be a buffet lunch made at home by the winemaker and his wife. In all cases we want to show you local gastronomic specialities and the local food and wine pairings.
Do not expect a picnic with salad and sausage from the supermarket and wine in plastic mugs… Think instead of a wine-and-dine experience with specially composed menu with three or four courses and delicious wines.
A wine tour with BKWine is also a culinary experience both for the wine enthusiast and for the gourmet. A gourmet wine tour!
Why travel with BKWine?
We are experts and specialists in wine and food tours and wine tourism, but also in wine in a broader perspective.
No other tour operator has a comparable knowledge and experience of wine, wine regions, wine tours and gourmet travel as BKWine.
We have organised hundreds of wine and food tours. This is what we love to do, because it is fun and exciting. What we want more than anything is to share with you all these wonderful experiences.
It does not matter if you are “a total novice” on wine and food or if you have a life-long experience in the wine sector. We will give you a very special experience, in a way that no other tour operator can do.
We write in specialised wine magazines and one of our books has won the prize as best wine book in the world. We are regularly called on to be part of judging panels in wine competitions.
We personally visit some 300 vineyards every year. We have organised several hundreds of wine and food tours with an experience going back more than twenty years. We are invited as speakers at wine tourism and culinary touring conferences.
We choose our tour destinations and winery visits with great care. Not because a winery happens to be carrying a “famous name” but because they will give our guests — you! — a unique and special experience. You may be looking for a short wine week-end holiday or a longer wine vacation; in all cases you can be confident that you will get a top quality tour, an experience of a lifetime. Or at least one that will last you until the next time you come on a wine tour with BKWine. Many of our travellers are returning clients.
A wine and food tour with BKWine is always guided by a knowledgeable and experienced BKWine guide and tour manager, someone who knows the ins and outs of wine, of the local gastronomy, of the culture and who speaks the language.
Some accolades we at BKWine and our wine and food tours have received:
- “World’s Top Wine Tours” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, the world’s biggest travel magazine
- “Best wine tasting holidays”, AOL Travel’s list of top wine tours
- “Recommended Wine Tours” by Munskankarna, the world’s biggest wine tasting and wine appreciation association
- “World’s Best Wine Book for Professionals” as well as “Best Wine Book of the Year” in Sweden 2010 for the book The Creation of a Wine
- “Best wine book for Professionals” again in 2012 in Sweden, as well as silver, runner-up, as “World’s Best Educational Wine Book” for the book Wine and the Environment
- “Wine Personality of the Year” by Munskankarna, the world’s biggest wine tasting and wine appreciation association
- On the Wine Media Power List by Wine Business International Magazine (Britt, 2012)
Read more on why to choose BKWine for a wine and food tour.
Read more on what previous travellers have said about our tours.
Our groups are always small. The group size may vary, sometimes maximum 8, sometimes 20, but always of a modest size (we do not do “minimum 20, maximum 45”). Check the details in each program. This is important since it guarantees a quality experience and a personal welcome at the wineries we visit.
BKWine is a Swedish registered travel organiser. BKWine has a bonded travel guarantee deposit so that you can feel safe when booking with us. We fully comply with European and Swedish travel guarantee regulations. British travellers may be familiar with the ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) protection scheme which is a similar model. BKWine follows the code of conduct and financial safeguards defined by the Swedish Consumer Agency and The Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency (“Kammarkollegiet”, with a history dating back to 1539). Read more about this in our Booking Terms and Conditions.
Read the BKWine Booking Terms and Conditions here. They are important to you!
You organise your travel independently to the destination for most of our tours but on location we take care of everything.
For more inspiration
Read our wine travel blog. And also:
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We also do custom wine and food tours if you want to choose different dates or if you want something different than what we currently offer on our scheduled tours – for individuals, companies, professionals, wine tastings clubs etc.