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“Andrea Pecunia's Wine Tour in Riomaggiore”
Review of Arbaspaa

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Cinque Terre Wine Tour in Riomaggiore
Ranked #2 of 9 things to do in Manarola
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Arbaspàa is a fully licensed Tour Organizer located in the Cinque Terre-Village Manarola. We have created our day tours with the idea to give our visitors the most autentic experience of the Cinque Terre, of the people, the traditions, the food, the nature and the sea. Among our most beautiful activities you can find sailing tours, fishing tours with a local fisherman, cooking courses (one of them with the visit of the local market), wine tastings (some with professional sommelier, some directly in the cellar of the winemaker), guided hikes off the beaten tracks including a lunch or a tasting and much more. Of course on request we can realize tailor made tours and excursions as well.
Reviewed June 25, 2013

If you have the time, this is something you don’t want to miss. It is a completely different experience than a visit to a standard, faceless, commercial winery. Andrea owns a small vineyard on the steep hills close to Riomaggiore, painstakingly chipped out of the rocky hillsides years ago. Retaining walls, 3-6 feet high are used to stabilize the ground, but also to reflect and to retain the heat from the sun for the vines. The vineyard is actually right alongside the narrow walking path from the SP 370 highway to the Santuario della Madonna di Montenero.

Small, with only around 1000 vines, he cultivates his orchard single-handedly, mostly by hand, also because the terrain is not suitable for mechanical aids. The only thing mechanical in the area is that every few hundred yards there is a track for a trolley to go from the top of the mountain to the highway several hundred feet below to transport the harvest to a more accessible place, where a motorized vehicle can pick it up for transport to the winery. This is a community trolley, used by several winegrowers in the vicinity.

He grows a mixture of Bosco, Vermentino, and Albarola vines, which are the usual vines in this region.

For the tour he charges €39 per person, minimum of 3 persons, and the tour will take 3-4 hours. He will meet you at the Banca Carige in the center of Riomaggiore or at the information center at the top of the town. With three guests, he has a small car with which he can drive you to the bottom of the hill where his vineyard is located. At the end of the vineyard tour, he'll drive you to the winery. If there are more guests, you will all take the bus. But then you have to make a long walk from the vineyard to the winery in town, because the bus goes very infrequently. If you have a car you can follow him to his vineyard and back.

The bus stop is also the start of the path to the Santuario. Halfway up the hill you will pass the vineyard of Andrea. He is just a one-person operator and somebody wrote a glowing website for him, (it doesn’t quite sound like him; he is much more modest) where you can make reservations, but you also can contact him at Andrea.Pecunia@virgilio.it and save him the agency’s fees, or call him at 39 3 2870 4791.

From the bottom of the hill you walk up a steep path to his vineyard, where he will explain how he grows his vines. From there you have a marvelous view of the surroundings and the Ligurian Sea and wonder who so many people still cultivate these wines on this difficult terrain. He says he loves the challenge of almost singlehandedly making beautiful wines responsibly. He still uses a copper-sulfur spray for his plants, avoiding the synthetic insecticides used in most other vineyards. Neither does he use chemicals to control the grass and weeds around his plants. At ground level he encloses the stems of the vines with a short section of plastic tubing. To remove the undesired vegetation he uses a standard Weedeater, which uses a fast rotating plastic string to cut the weeds. The plastic tubes around the vines are there to protect the vines from unintentional damage during this operation.

From his vineyard is a short 10 minute walk up to the Santuario, located up on a hill where you will find a 14th century church and where you have an amazing 360 degrees view of the surrounding mountains, villages in the distance, and the blue sea below.

Then Andrea will take you back to Riomaggiore to show you his winery. What you will see is the smallest commercial winery ever. It is a cellar about 8’ x 30’, where he takes his harvest and removes the stems, then presses his grapes, after which he ferments them in the same type unglazed earthenware jars as the ancients have done thousands of years ago. Then he bottles his wine, and affixes his labels, and stores them in the back shelf ready for sale. And all of this is done by hand.

He makes the two most important wines of the region, the white Cinque Terre wine and the Sciacchetrà. For this he combines his grapes, a blend of the three varieties described earlier, of which at least 60 % is Bosco, and separates them in two batches. The lower quality grapes are processed immediately. This will result in the “white” Cinque Terre wine, which is actually still somewhat pinkish because of the process. It has a delicate bouquet and a fine finish. The minimum alcohol content is 11 %. He sells this wine for €15/bottle of which 21 % is the Value Added Tax. So he doesn’t pocket very much for himself.

The better quality grapes are hung up from the rafters to dry and to allow the sugars to develop and concentrate. After some weeks, they have lost a lot of moisture and are almost like raisins. In October they are processed into the more headier amber-colored nectar, also known as Sciacchetrà. These wines from his production come in smaller bottles of around 350 ml each and he retails them for €35/bottle. It is an excellent dessert wine with an alcohol concentration of around 17 %. The usual price of these wines in the wine shops is round €40. Not cheap, but there is a lot of work involved. And the yield is also much smaller, because the grapes have lost lot of moisture during the drying process.

His total production of both wines is only 1000 bottles/year, which is barely enough to make even a tenuous living. You wonder why people still do this; he says he does this because he loves the challenge of making a superb wine. He does these tours to supplement his income, but he nevertheless pours out generous portions of both wines for tasting. He is a very nice guy. But he is never going to be rich in this business.

For more information, see http://www.travelswithhok.com/The_Cinque_Terre/Entries/2013/5/1_I__Riomaggiore.html

6  Thank ploddinghappily
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviews (301)
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252 - 256 of 301 reviews

Reviewed October 21, 2012

The wine tasting and local food dishes that came with it were excellent and portions were generous. The setting and view were stunning...high on a cliffside terrace overlooking the sea at sunset.
The service was extremely slow - after an hour we had still not been served and when we went to find out what was happening I was asked to carry my own tray of 8 wineglasses to the table! I was not comfortable doing that but they refused - another patron and I carried the wine glasses 2 by 2.
We exchanged many, many emails with the Arabaspaa tour operator and they were no able to book anything for us altho we tried for a variety of their offerings and were int he area for a week. While we were in one of the Cinque Terra villages we saw their office and went in and they had this wine tasting - don't know why we couldn't have booked it when we were planning our trip (we did request it).
The location and the wines/food were great but service was poor form the wine bar and the tour company.

Thank cineplex
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denis-from-Arbaspaa, Direttore at Arbaspaa, responded to this reviewResponded October 23, 2012

Dear user "cineplex",
we would like to explain you that in each of our tours and activities there is a minimum number of participants; especially in that week in which you stayed in Cinque Terre we had no other alternatives, also considering the bad condition of weather and sea (for boat tour).

Arbaspàa directly arranges tours and activities, we don't rely to other operators

Best regards

Eugenio Bordoni
Manager of Arbaspàa Tour Organizer

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 25, 2012

This tour agency was very easy to find once we came out of the train station in Manarola, the instructions that were sent to us beforehand were good and easy to follow. the apartment we rented through them was beautiful, and the staff was friendly and helpful. We needed to contact Angelo's boat Tours and they were able to help us out no problem. We also booked a wine and chesse tasting through their website which was also a nice outing. If I ever got to go back to Cinque Terre I would definitely book through this company again, and recommend it to people looking into going to CT. I actually found out about Arbaspaa agency through Trip Advisor when doing research for our honeymoon last year. I started researching early, and it is a good thing because we went in May 2011 and I think I booked in December/January and already a lot of places that I inquired about were booked.

Thank themanda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 17, 2012

The fishing tour was everything that I had wished and more. Alessandro was very friendly and accommodating. The trip was very affordable. The fishing trip provided us with the opportunity to swim, meet new people, and be part of Cinque Terre traditional fishing. With a small number of people on our boat, it as the perfect setting to get engaged. One of the owners of the company was with us on our trip and she was welcoming and a wealth of knowledge of the local scene. After getting to shore we had some wine and light fare with the captain and then were ate our fresh catch at a local waterfront restaurant. It was an amazing afternoon. I would recommend this trip to anyone, who enjoys life.

Thank pmcdee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 20, 2012

The sailboat experience "Azure Day" was nothing like advertised or pictured in the brochure. It was advertised as a tour of Cinque Terre from a beautiful sailboat, but we never saw any of the villages from the sea, nor did we have a boat as pictured! Never got past Portovenere!! The entire morning was spent in the bay before getting out in the sea. The sailboat was extremely small and barely fit my husband and I on deck (we are not large people). An English speaking captain was advertised; our captain only spoke Italian. He was to meet us at 10 am at a designated location - he was not there, and we had to search for him and get someone to call as we did not have a phone, so we were over an hour delayed in leaving. The sailboat broke down after the captain stopped for gas since he was using a very loud motor to get around since the wind was a factor - another hour and a half delay from sailing that we had to depart the boat and walk around while it was getting fixed! Terrible experience and the agency did not accommodate our wishes for a refund. We had to go on the large tour boats to experience the villages from the water - at a fraction of the cost! I will say that the apartment that we booked through the agency was wonderful in Corniglia, and we also booked a cooking class which was a lot of fun. Save your money on the sailboat tour, however. It was a huge disappointment on Father's Day for my husband and a ripoff of our money. The agency should have refunded at least one of our fees - terribly misleading information and the inability to communicate with the captain made for a very long day. If they had refunded our money, we would have felt better. We wasted a half day of our vacation in the Manarola office trying to get them to understand just how awful the experience was...to no avail.

3  Thank mccray77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denis-from-Arbaspaa, Direttore at Arbaspaa, responded to this reviewResponded August 24, 2012

Dear user "mccray77",
since long time our agency cooperates with professionals in the nautical field; so, we’ve at our disposal several and modern sailing boats and the size depends on the number of participants to the tour. The day in which you and your husband participated in the “Azure Day” tour, meteo and sea conditions were not so suitable to allow a navigation till the coast of Cinque Terre but, anyway, the weather condition allowed the sailing tour within the Poets’ Gulf without any risks for the participants. So, the program of the tour has not been carried out in its totality for reasons that were indipendent from our will; by the way, during the tour the lunch has been normally served and the participants sailed between Portovenere and Lerici. Our agency has recognized that the program has not been carried out at 100%, refunding you about for the half of tour-price.

Best regards,
Dott. Eugenio Bordoni

Manager of Arbaspàa Tour Organizer

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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