Take your children for a walk in a vineyard. You won’t regret it…

Yesterday Parzen family spent the afternoon meandering through the Michele Chiarlo winery’s Parco Artistico La Court in Asti province with Stefano Chiarlo.

Lila Jane and Georgia, who had been complaining about the hour-long drive from Bra in Cuneo province (“daddy, this is taking forever!”), literally bounded out of their car seats and headed straight for the park’s observation tower.

It was a clear, beautiful, but hot day in Barbera vineyardland yesterday.

Atop Chiarlo’s Cascina La Court, a cool breeze gently soothed their cheeks as they marveled at the newly born bunches, still green only a few weeks after fruit set.

Any keen observer of grape growing would remark on how wild Barberaland is and how the vines don’t have the manicured look of their counterparts in Nebbiololand. The farming there alternates with woods and other crops and many growers have shifted to organic practices like Chiarlo, said Stefano.

That’s Stefano as he showed us the apotropaic totems mounted on each of the rows. His family’s park is open to the public throughout the day and the winery will organize picnics and tastings by appointment. But everyone is welcome enjoy the estate, any time of day, he said.

There are works of art by contemporary artists installed across the park. And there’s even free wi-fi.

“Hills, that’s what makes Italian viticulture unique,” said Stefano as he waxed agronomic (he’s the family’s vineyard manager). Our girls couldn’t agree more.

I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon…

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