Hi Chris — thanks for the kind words, and I’m always happy to help out. Sounds like you will have some fun exploring wineries out in Tuscany soon.
You have a great question.
Most wineries in Italy charge around retail pricing for wines when you buy in their cantina. There was a time when the pricing was cheaper at the cantina, just like at American wineries, but those days are gone.
The good news is that the retail price of many wines in Italy are less expensive than here in the US. The real benefit of buying direct from the winery is your assurance that the wine has been stored in the best condition possible. Your wines will be the closest possible to how the winemaker had intended.
As far as pricing, the easiest way to get an idea of what pricing will be is to use wine-searcher.com.
For example, let’s say you want to visit Casanova di Neri because you like their Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. Just go onto wine-searcher.com and select the country “Italy” from the drop down, enter in Casanova di Neri Brunello. You can try it here.
At the time of this writing, you can find the 2009 vintage in Italian shops for about $65 to $79 (or 47 to 56 euros). That’s a fair range to expect when you visit the cantina at Casanova di Neri for their 2009 Brunello.
If you change the search to be USA-only, you’ll find that same bottle costs $90 here in the US — plus shipping to you. Buying direct from the cellar in Montalcino is a better deal and you know its integrity is intact.
Getting your wine home isn’t too tough, I suggest you read my blog post on Bringing Wine Home from Italy.
I hope that helps. Happy hunting!
Michael Horne, CS
Los Gatos, CA USA