View from Mate Winery, Tuscany, Italy

Near Montalcino – A Little Piece of Heaven

If we’d had a bucket list, a visit to the Mate` winery would have been on it!

Our first introduction to Mr. Mate´ was through his utterly delightful, books about moving to and living in Tuscany; “The Hills of Tuscany” and “A Vineyard in Tuscany.” If you haven’t had the pleasure, treat yourself! I can’t tell you how many times I have re-read them.

The author grew up in Vancouver, B.C., where I live and where I was born.  I’d guess we might be around the same age! Ferenc came to Canada from Hungary after the revolution, when he was 10 years old, ended up in Vancouver, where he met and married Candace, a Vancouver girl who’s an artist whose work appears on the winery’s bottle labels.

In our opinion, Ferenc and Candace are a Renaissance couple!

His and their story, from building sailboats, writing books about sailing and sailing various parts of the world, to deciding to settle down in Tuscany is, in my opinion, an incredible journey. Initially they lived near Montepulciano but then he developed a passion to make wine, ultimately ending up with a property in an extremely desirable location for wine growing, near Montalcino, where they rebuilt a broken down priory on the property which became their home. With guidance and encouragement from some pretty famous wine folks, they began growing 3 varieties of grapes! The icing on the cake was that before too long the Wine Spectator was rating their wines from 92 to 95 points!

My husband was thrilled to find and purchase his first bottle of Mate’ wine from an enoteca in Montalcino in 2008, he was like a kid in a candy store!

Luckily, we still had the wine because the guys at the airport wanted to search our luggage for some reason or other; you never know what may come of that! One normally doesn’t celebrate your luggage not arriving when you do, but ours got left behind in Pisa…the wine gods blessed us that day.

So…for our 22rd anniversary, a few months after our trip, we figured it would be a very good idea to celebrate by creating a special dinner to go with what we hoped would be a very special wine.

It was…the man makes damned good wine!

The wine was amazing and near the end of the dinner I said, “I wonder if we would be able to contact Ferenc by email.” We did, telling him how very much we were enjoying his wine and that we lived in Vancouver and so on. He actually got back to us, wishing us happy anniversary!

Fast Forward to May 12, 2014: We’re back in Tuscany and on the road from Panzano in Chianti heading to Montalcino for our pre-arranged visit to the Mate’ winery! Candace Mate’ was our host and showed us around the breathtakingly beautiful “paradise” they created with a hell of a lot of hard work and sweat, followed up by a wine tasting…just the three of us…in the old stone tasting room, a little piece of heaven!



  1. Hi,
    Were from PEI and visiting in early October. Have read both books and so enjoyed them. Would love to visit their winery as you feel as if you know them after having read books but unfortunately don`t think we will be able to buy many of their famous wines. Would you still recommend going and is this an expensive venture to do the tastings. This is all new for us and obviously trying to do an expensive trip, staying in Montepulciano.

    Thank you.

    • Hi Daniel…

      Thanks for dropping by! Yes, I have to agree, after reading the books so many times, we feel the same way! Well, as far as the tasting, you will have to “book” that on their website. And, there was no charge but I think there is an expectation that you will buy. I think we bought 2 or 3 (you know, that limited luggage thingy). We actually held off buying much wine until we went to Mate! Even if you can buy just two it is well worth it because they do a great job! We have had the pleasure of drinking a number of their wines over the past few years. I would recommend you going if you can especially because you like the books and I think you will enjoy seeing and tasting what you have read about…the tasting room has a number of Candace’s paintings up as well! I think it would be gorgeous to be there in October and I wish you a fantastic trip. How could it be otherwise, you are off to Italy and I’m not the least bit jealous as we are planning a return to Rome soonish! If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate, I would be delighted to hear from you and I would love to hear about your trip!

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