Into the Vineyards at Tenuta Masselina

The rains of the previous day had brought out the rich green of the Romagna hills and covered the area with a foggy haze that gave the passing scenery a mysterious and dramatic look. Our blog group was headed out from our base in Bertinoro in a new direction this morning to an area of Emilia-Romagna I hadn’t yet visited. At Castel Bolognese, a town between Faenza and Imola in the Ravenna Province of the region, we turned off the highway towards Tenuta Masselina in the area known as Serra. Along the 2.5 miles from the town center to the winery, we were met by Marco Nannetti, a Gruppo Cevico representative who led us up the hill to the tasting room and sales center with views of vineyards all around, lovely even on a foggy day in autumn.

"Vineyards and trees cover the hillside at Tenuta Masselina, Emilia-Romagna, Italy"

Vineyards and trees cover the hillside at Tenuta Masselina

The sales and tasting room was warm and cozy as we mingled with our hosts and learned about the Gruppo Cevico, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. With 18 wineries in its consortium (12 in Romagna, including Tenuta Masselina) and 4,500 growers, it is one of the largest wine producers in Italy. We also learned a bit of the history of wine in Romagna. Did you know that the Sangiovese grape common to Romagna means “Blood of Jove” in Latin? A common theory is that the origin of Sangiovese was in the Romagna town of Santarcangelo where the Romans stored their wine in caves. Of course, in those days the wine the Roman soldiers were drinking was for sustenance and really not very good — nothing like the Sangiovese wines I’ve been enjoying the past several months. I also thought it was very interesting that in 2011 Gruppo Cevico opened a wine bar called TOT I DE in Hiroshima, Japan offering the food and wine of the Romagna region. TOT I DE means “every day” in Romagna dialect, reflecting the welcoming hospitality of Romagna and the informal, daily enjoyment of wine.

Then it was time to go back outside and explore the property with Riccardo Castaldi, Cevico’s Senior Viticulturalist (and author) and Elena Piva, Tenuta Masselina Sales and Marketing representative.

Let’s follow Riccardo

"Riccardo Castaldi, Senior Viticulturalist at Tenuta Masselini in Serra, Italy"

Riccardo Castaldi, Senior Viticulturalist

A little rain and muddy terrain couldn’t keep our blog group out of the vineyards. The allure of vines heavy with ripe Sangiovese grapes and the lovely hillside views made us eager to get in to the vineyard with cameras in hand.

"Riccardo Castaldi and Alessandra Catania walking in the vineyard at Tenuta Masselina, Castel Bolognese, Italy"

Riccardo Castaldi and Alessandra Catania walking in the vineyard

At Tenuta Masselina, there is a philosophy of combining modern technology of wine-making with ancestral traditions. For example, all grapes on the 22 hectares are harvested by hand. These Sangiovese grapes had the most beautiful shade of deep blue. How lush and delicious do they look?

"Deep blue of the ripe Sangiovese grapes at Tenuta Masselina, Emilia-Romagna Italy"

Deep blue of the Sangiovese grapes

The next part of the tour would have been down the hill below and into the Trebbiano vineyards, but it was determined that it would be much too slippery under the circumstances. So we slowly made our way back to the tasting room, enjoying the scenery along the way.

"Riccardo Castaldi -- maybe a little muddy for a walk down to the Trebbiano vineyards"

Riccardo Castaldi surveys the terrain

Back inside, we met winemaker Andrea Celletti who gave us a tour of the cellar. He described the various techniques of vinification used by Tenuta Masselina and the impressive terracotta amphorae as well as oak barrels that are used for fermentation, depending on the wine. Clay vats have been been used since Roman times and these at Masselina are used to create their distinctive earthy and aromatic wine, Vino delle Anfore.

"Tenuta Masselina winemaker Andrea Celletti in the winery's cellar"

Winemaker Andrea Celletti

Upstairs in the tasting room, Riccardo poured Masselina Metodo Classico, a sparkling aperitivo made from the Pignoletto grape. We were also served cheese and meats while Chef Paola Cucchi was preparing our lunch. The parmesan cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar was so tasty that I could have eaten the entire plate myself, but I resisted!

"Masselina Metodo Classico and appetizers"

Masselina Metodo Classico and appetizers

For lunch, we all gathered around two tables set up in the tasting room near the picture windows overlooking the vineyards that we were not able to explore on foot that day. I was completely contented as I enjoyed the lovely lunch accompanied by fine wines while gazing at the serene view and sharing the conversation at the table. I was seated with a few of my fellow bloggers, consultant Filippo Fabbri, and our generous and delightful host, Ruenza Santandrea, President of the Gruppo Cevico. (Ruenza was also a participant/speaker at Settimana del Buonvivere hosted by Legacoop Forli-Cesena, our blog tour sponsor.)

"Chef Paola Cucchi at Tenuta Masselina, in Serra locality of Castel Bolognese, Italy"

Top right: Chef Paola Cucchi

The 147 Chardonnay Rubicone that was first served with lunch was a delightful light white wine that was a nice transition from our sparkling aperitivo and complemented our pasta in truffle sauce, once of several tasty dishes.

"Vino delle Anfore terre cotta vat and in the bottle with ceramic label"

Vino delle Anfore

We also enjoyed the Vino delle Anfore wine, rich and full-bodied with beautiful golden tones as you can see above. Creating a connection between wine, art and the history of the Romagna region, it is made with 100% Trebbiano grapes from the estate’s 40 year old Trebbiano vineyard and stored in the terracotta vats we saw in the wine cellar.

The labeling of this vintage is very special and was a project of the heart for Ruenza who envisioned their creation. Ruenza worked with the ceramics museum in nearby Faenza to discover the original plates which are now recreated on Masselina bottles. These hand-painted ceramic (“majolica”) labels depict the “Gentle Women of Faenza”, noble women of of the 15th century. There are six variations of the Vino della Anfore medallion showing six different women, each having a unique story and symbolism.

"Ruenza Santandrea holding a bottle of Vino della Anfore wine"

From left: Ruenza Santandrea, Vino della Anfore wines, Megan Smith and me with a very large bottle

And, of course, there are the Sangiovese wines. Masselina’s 138 Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore is made with 100% Sangiovese grapes while the 158 wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese grapes. Watch a tasting of 158 Cabernet Sauvignon Sangiovese Rubicone by professional sommelier Davide Staffa to indulge vicariously in this tempting wine.

"Display of Sangiovese 158 at Tenuta Massenlina in Serra, Castel Bolognese, Italy"

Masselina Sangiovese 158

As I’ve experienced in other venues in Emilia-Romagna, language differences do not have to create communication barriers. We all managed to get our messages across to each other with some help from our bilingual friends like Alessandra and Riccardo. I really enjoyed the visit with our hosts, the tour and delicious lunch on this hilltop in Romagna. But there was more ahead for our group that afternoon and evening, so we were once again on the road in Romagna in our Settimana del Buonvivere van.

"Alessandra Catania and Alicia Bea on the road in Romagna"

Alessandra Catania and Alicia Bea on the road in Romagna

For more information:
Tenuta Masselina
Località Serra via Pozze
1030 Castelbolognese (RA) – Italia


Thanks to fellow blogger, Penny Sadler of Adventures of a Carry-On for her pasta with truffle sauce photo. As usual, my eagerness to dig into the food caused me to forget to take a photo first.

Disclosure: This post was a part of Buonvivere Blog Tour, organized by Settimana del Buonvivere in collaboration with 21grammy.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

46 thoughts on “Into the Vineyards at Tenuta Masselina

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Thanks for coming by! Even a little fog can’t take away the beauty of some places. In fact, it gives it a kind of dramatic feel.

  1. Mike

    Cathy, some of my favorite posts of your’s are one’s like this. Where you describe the entire story from the outside that leads to the amazing experience inside and onto the plate and into the glass. Btw…I loved that vineyard pic of Riccardo Castaldi and Alessandra Catania. Awesome 🙂

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Thanks so much for that Mike. Glad you like the style of these stories and that I’m conveying my perspectives in a way that’s meaningful. I love that photo, too!

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Although I’ve had lots of time in California wine country (and my parents even lived in a place that was surrounded by vineyards, it isn’t all that often that I’ve actually been able to walk around in them. It’s a real treat. It would have been fun to go down the hill to the other vineyards that day, but just a little too slippery.

  2. Jennifer

    I came across wine fermented in terracotta pots for the first time just a few weeks ago in Croatia! I love the distinct taste from this type of vinification. I’ll have to check out this winery.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      It’s a very interesting technique – one with a lot of history! Yes, see about visiting here. Could probably make it a nice day trip (couple hours drive from Venice), but maybe even more fun to stay in the area for a couple of days.

  3. Jeff Titelius

    What a fabulous way to spend a day! Rain or shine, I would have loved it too! I found it fascinating that Sangiovese translates as “blood of Jove.” I love it! Your photos have me drooling for those appetizers…especially the Parmesan! YUM! Thank you for the introduction to this wine region and its bountiful harvests…including the food. LOL.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Oh, that cheese with balsamic vinegar really hit the spot with me! And of course, this is the area where that wonderful balsamic vinegar is made. Delicious!

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      It’s a good question about exactly how common this practice is in the area. I think that many wineries (especially the big ones) are doing much by machine these days. I’ll have to find out.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      🙂 I know what you mean. During these times, when everything is fitting together so nicely — food, wine, ambiance — it isn’t easy to move along. But it helps if you know you’ve got some other very cool things to do on the itinerary.

  4. Mary {The World Is A Book}

    I always enjoy winery tours even more when the grapes are hanging on the vines. What a great experience and all the food you tasted sounds and looks delicious. I still dream of visiting a vineyard in Italy someday and eating a hearty lunch. So, I’m happy to virtually follow along with you for now. I fee like visiting a vineyard this weekend now 🙂

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      And I thank you for virtually following along. Those grapes were so luscious — no editing on those pics at all. Isn’t the color beautiful?

  5. Marcia

    Those grapes are really blue! I’ve been getting quite an education in the different varieties of grapes from your post.
    I’m drawn to the labels, so colorful. The tour guide at the vineyard I went to a few weeks ago told us how precise the labels have to be placed but they’re a small operation and do it by hand.
    Thanks for linking up this week, Cathy!
    Hope you have a great weekend.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      The labels are so beautiful and the story behind them very interesting. Ruenza rightfully has a lot of pride in those. Works of art — really!

  6. David Marchese

    A truly excellent blog on these winery visits and wine tastings. Your passion for what you are doing is inspiring. I also enjoyed the wonderfully appropriate photography. Thanks…

    Looking forward to your next post!

    Chairman & CEO

  7. Leigh

    I love Sangiovese but I would have one very hard time keeping my eyes open after a lunch served with wine. Looked like another first class outing. Are many of the wines you’ve been tasting available in the US or are most sold to the local market?
    I find it interesting that they’re still using the clay vats. They would be quite porous I’d think so wonder how much oxygen gets in and how long the wine stays on clay. Gives real meaning to the word earthiness as a taste sensation.

  8. Jackie Smith

    While we’ve been sipping Australian and New Zealand wines and sampling their wonderful culinary talents ‘down under’ you’ve succeeded in making my mouth water with this post. . .I found myself checking the time to see if it might be ‘wine time’ yet. Nice post, Cathy!

  9. Suzanne Fluhr (Boomeresque)

    Very engaging photos and descriptions, Cathy. The only time I stayed at a vineyard (outside Mendoza, Argentina), it was the beginning of their spring time and there were no grapes on the vines. The ones you photographed look luscious. I also enjoyed the photos of the bottle labels. I admit that I am enough of a rube that I still sometimes buy a bottle of wine because I think it has a pretty label. 😉

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Nothing wrong with appreciating a lovely label, Suzanne. These special ceramic ones — works of art — would have really grabbed your attention.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Yes, it was harvest season for some of the grapes and getting close for others. We were actually helping (kind of) to pick grapes at another vineyard we visited the day before.

    1. Catherine Sweeney Post author

      Thanks, Mary. Now that I’ve been to the Emilia-Romagna region twice in several months, you’d think I’d be satisfied. But I could go back in a heartbeat! Lovely region, lovely people.

  10. Pingback: A Bite of Italy at Apofruit Italia » Traveling with Sweeney

  11. Megan

    Oh wow! I’d almost forgotten how giant that bottle of wine was! Remind me again why we didn’t buy one that large to share in our castle in Bertinoro.. 😉 Hope I’ll be seeing you again in Italy, Cathy!

  12. Penny Sadler

    Hi Cathy. doing a bit of research and came upon your post. What a great experience that was. I wish I could do it again with my new found wine knowledge! I’d take that whole experience again actually. Great time. And great write up of Masselina. Brava!

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