Updated: Oct 14
While in Naples, we hired a driver to pick us up from the city center, drive us to the Vesuvius National Park so we could hike to the crater of the volcano, and drop us off at our hotel in Pompei. After a long (and very hot) hike to Vesuvius, our driver suggested a visit to a nearby winery for lunch and wine tasting. Though we didn't plan on it, wine tasting in Naples was a pleasant surprise.
Wine Tasting in Naples: How to Get to Cantina del Vesuvio:
Located just five minutes from Pompeii, and a quick twenty minutes from Naples city center, the Cantina del Vesuvio Winery is located within the Vesuvius National Park. Anyone can make a reservation for a wine tasting and simply drive up to the winery. If you don't have access to a car, you can book a transfer and tour from nearby Naples. From Pompei, the winery offers a free shuttle with reservation from Porta Marina, but you must request it upon reserving and there is limited availability. According to the Cantina del Vesuvio website, there was a bus tour that combined the Vesuvius hike and wine tour, but as of 2023 that tour is no longer in service.
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Wine tasting in Naples: What to Expect during the Wine Tasting:
We drove up the long, rocky driveway, to what looked to be a beautiful white modern home, but is in fact the main winery, shop and restaurant.
We registered with the receptionist waiting outside and were both handed a delicious glass of sparkling rose Spumante Rose Extradry Capafresca to sip while we waited for the next tour to begin. Which, we cannot express enough, was absolutely delicious. Light and refreshing.
Our guide, walked us into the vineyard, wine glasses in hand and gave us some background on the land, the family and of course, the wine. The sixteen hectares of vineyard is planted within volcanic soil, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.
First planted by the Greeks in the 5th Century BC, the Lacryma Christi wines have been made from these grapes since Ancient Roman times. These special vines do not need to be irrigated as they naturally retain humidity and release it as needed.
The Russo family have worked this land since 1930, creating unique tasting wines in limited quantities per year, sold directly from their shop. Also available in the shop are bottles of Vesuvius olive oil, red wine vinegar and their signature hand-painted ceramic rooster jug.
After a brief tour of the cantina, our guide escorted us onto the large rooftop terrace, where servers escorted us to individual bistro tables. Overhead, thick white canvas, weaved between the wooden planks, provided much needed shade without blocking the phenomenal view.
How Much does the Wine Tasting Cost at Cantina del Vesuvio in Naples?
Cantina del Vesuvio offers wine tastings (among other events and activities) daily between 11am and 4pm. Guests can choose from the Classic ($38 Euro per person) or Superior ($48 Euro per person) wine tasting, each with a total of six wines served with a three-four course lunch. Families are welcome. Children four to seventeen are $25 Euro each and children under three dine for free. Dietary restrictions are also accommodated.
Wine Tasting in Naples: The Lunch Menu and Wine Pairings:
We chose the Superior package (because why not) with wines that range from 13-14.5% alcohol and are aged a minimum of twelve months. Lunch began with a basket of warm baked bread with Extra Virgin olive oil from Vesuvius and a red wine vinegar for dipping, paired with a Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Superiore Bianco DOP white wine. A very soft and subtle white wine.
The antipasto appetizer came next, a variety of local meats, cheeses, vegetables and bruschetta, paired with a Rosato DOP rose wine in a generous portion. A sweet rose, very fresh and fruity. The antipasto was simple and delicious. A vegetarian option was made available, omitting the local meats and adding more vegetables.
Already feeling the effects of the wine and the hot Italian sun, the next plate was homemade meatballs
in a rich tomato sauce, paired with a Rosso Superiore DOP red wine. An intense red wine, with strong and rich tones. We were lucky enough to be given two plates of meatballs, though one of us is a vegetarian. Needless to say, the other was very happy.
The pasta course was a generous helping of
homemade spaghetti, tossed in a sauce made from heirloom Piennolo tomatoes, paired with Lacyma Christie Riserva, aged in French oak barrels for 18-24 months. A dark red, with a long harsh plum finish. The wine paired well with the pasta and rich sauce.
Stuffed (and quite tipsy) we ended the lunch with a Pastiera Napolitana for dessert, a sweet ricotta cake, paired with Passito Bianco IGT. A sweet dessert wine with strong apricot and fig flavours. We enjoyed the afternoon shade a little longer, sipping the unique taste of the Passito, then made our way to the shop.
We planned on purchasing a bottle of the delicious Spumante Rose ($22 Euro) the Cantina del Vesuvio welcomed us with when we arrived, and inquire about the dessert wine. Hearing that they only had a few bottles left, we ended up with two bottles of the Passito Bianco ($48 Euro). We shared the Spumante later that week with family, celebrating the engagement of our nephew, and packed the bottles of the Passito Bianco to bring home and share with friends.
The wine tasting experience at Cantina del Vesuvio lasted over two hours from start to finish, and was a wonderful way to relax after the hike up Vesuvius. For a reasonable price, the winery offers generous portions of delicious food, very generous samples of their wines, in a spectacular setting.
Cantina del Vesuvio Winery, Naples, Italy
Overall Ranking - 3/5
Though it may be a little difficult to get to the winery, the experience is good set in a serene and beautiful location. The food and wine are tasty and given in generous portions. If you choose not to purchase from the shop, there is no pressure, the staff are all friendly and approachable (and speak English). Dress should be smart casual, taking into consideration the weather and the short trek into the vineyard.