Although Italy has 1,500,000 or more vineyard acres and at least 350 DOC varietals, the region Americans are most likely to associate with “Italian wine” is Tuscany. There are many grapes grown there and many types of wine produced, but the reigning monarch of the region is Sangiovese, the basis for Chianti, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, and Brunello. Some of Tuscany’s wineries are centuries old (Frescobaldi dates to the 1300s!). Many are small, family-driven businesses – some are huge (Avignonesi’s grounds span nearly 500 acres). Wine permeates Tuscan culture – not surprising, since the tradition of winemaking here is believed to have begun with the Etruscans. Suffice to say, these folks are experienced.