CASTLE FOOD & WINE WORKSHOP (WSET 1) - Join us for the olive harvest 2019 at Castello di Potentino - Pick olives by day, and taste wine by night. Head off for excursions to Montalcino for a Brunello tasting and to the local Frantoio to see the olive pressing process and enjoy the cooking of top London chef, Avinash Shashidara, resident chef at the castle for your 5 night stay..



The “Raccolta” - the Olive Harvest

Late October, early November is an extremely exciting time to be in Tuscany - the olives are ready to be picked and pressed and this is cause for great celebration - Extra Virgin Olive Oil is precious and as you will see, utterly delicious, especially on bruschette, and gnudi, and Fiorentina beef steaks. We will get the opportunity to pick at Castello di Potentino, peaceful, gentle work (less challenging than the grape harvest!), and then take our crates of olives to the local Frantoio - the mill, to have the fruits of our labour pressed and bottled for us to take back to our chef to create some wonderful meals.

The Wine Course 

The week is shaped around the olive harvest and the WSET Level 1 wine course - a beginner level introduction to wine suitable for all those pursuing an interest in wine. This qualification provides a hands on introduction to the world of wine, In three morning sessions you will explore the main types and styles of wine through sight, smell and taste, while also gaining the basic skills to describe wine accurately, make food and wine pairings and feel confident in spotting a faulty wine. Upon successful completion you will receive a WSET certificate and lapel pin. 

What you'll learn 

  • The main types and styles of wine 

  • Common wine grapes and their characteristics 

  • How to store and serve wine 

  • The principles of food and wine pairing 

  • How to describe wine using the WSET Level 1 Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine® (SAT)  

The Castle

Castello di Potentino is set on Mount Amiata in the south of Tuscany, itis a working organic farm that produces award-winning wines and olive oil. Its grounds include a private chapel and beautiful garden. Built on an Etruscan site Castello di Potentino lies in a secret valley in one of the last undiscovered corners of Tuscany – Monte Amiata.  The medieval building is surrounded by unspoilt countryside, dotted with the vines and the ancient olive trees used for the estate’s small production of high quality wine, grappa and oil.

The first document to mention the Castello di Potentino is dated 1042. However, the original foundations are probably Etruscan. Over the centuries the property passed through the hands of many well-known Tuscan families of noble descent - the Tolomei, the Bonsignori, and the the Salimbeni, whom in the company of Contessa Bianchina, received Saint Catherine of Siena as a guest at the castle. At the end of the 16th Century it became a centre for the charitable works of the hospital order of Santa Maria della Scala.

After this period of religious activity, the Medici Duke Ferdinando I conceded the estate to Marchese Giovan Battista Bourbon del Monte, famous commander-in-chief of the infantry of the Venetian Republic. His descendants finally sold the castle to a gentleman from Switzerland, Antonio Hemmeler, in 1906. Recently it was purchased and restored by the Greene family, who have given new life to the ancient traditions of the building. The castle has eight luxurious bedrooms. The rooms all have different designs, some with wood beams and others with frescoes on the ceiling. Each one has antique furniture and plenty of old world charm.

Agriculture and viticulture are about growing and living, so eating and drinking well are an important element in the Potentino ethos which is concerned with the sustainability of how we inhabit a place and relate to it physically and mentally. The castle has its own vineyards, olive groves and vegetable garden.

The Cook and The Cookery Classes 

All lunches and evening meals will be prepared for us by chef Avinash Shashidara. Avi has worked at some of London’s top restaurants including The River Cafe (he left only last summer, 2018, after ten years of service) and two Michelin Starred, Hibiscus. His cooking is unfussy, unpretentious and fabulous. He will be cooking using vegetables from the villa ‘orto’ (vegetable garden), grain from our fields, and the fruit trees on the estate. Meat, and fish are sourced from local organic and free range producers.  

Guests are welcome to pop into the kitchen at any stage to see Avi preparing our meals, though there will be organised cooking demonstrations that will be interactive to allow participants to learn how to make pasta, focaccia and risotto. 

Yoga and Morning Runs (Optional!) 

For those who like to start their day with a spot of stretching and mindful breathing, we have yoga with meditation classes starting at 7:30. There are also tracks for runs and hikes around the castle for those keen for a breathtakingly scenic start to the day.  


  • Triple Room/Separate Private Bathroom €1050 per person (based on 3 people sharing)

  • Ensuite Triple Room €1250 per person (based on 3 people sharing)

  • Double Room/Separate Private Bathroom €1450

  • Ensuite Double/Twin Room (Based on two people sharing) €1650 per person 

  • Ensuite Double Room, Single Occupancy €1850  

What is Included: 

  • Full board at Castello di Potentino for 5 nights, All meals and lodging. There will be wine with all lunches and dinners.

  • WSET Course Level 1. includes Tuition and all course materials, study guide, stationary, food and wine samples of wines from around the world including the fine wines of Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Barolo and exam paper. 

  • Meditation and Yoga classes, use of all mats and bricks.

  • A morning’s olive picking on the grounds of Castello di Potentino

  • Visit to a local olive press to see oil being produced, and a bottle of new oil for each guest to take home

  • Tour and wine tasting of Castello di Potentinos’s award winning wines  

  • WIne tasting at a top Brunello estate and a visit to Montalcino

  • Masterclasses in Pasta, Risotto and Breadmaking with our chef Avinash Shashidara 

What is not included: 

  • Flights

  • Airport transfers are not included, though please do email me so that I might help you plan your journey.


Please email . Very much looking forward to meeting and raising a glass or two with you! 


SAMPLE ITINERARY (times/days for activities may vary)

Day 1 - Sunday 
Welcome aperitivo and a tasting of Castello di Potentino’s award winning wines with their winemaker, Charlotte Horton.

Day 2 - Monday  
Yoga class, breakfast and the WSET Level 1 wine course begins, “Introduction to wine, Types and Styles and the Principal Grape Varieties”  
Lunch followed by a late afternoon trip into Montalcino. Free time for shopping and gelato, before a winetasting at a top producer of Brunello di Montalcino
Dinner back at the castle celebrating the ingredients of autumn, including pumpkin, chestnuts and porcini mushrooms

Day 3 - Tuesday

Breakfast and Olive Picking. There are over 1000 olive trees on the estate and we will have a go at picking a few of them.
Time to relax within the grounds of the castle before heading off to visit the local Frantoio to see our olives pressed into oil.


Before dinner, Avi will present a pasta masterclass - showing guests the best pasta dishes to show off the new olive oil

Dinner celebrating the fruits of our harvest. Bruschette toasted on outside fires.
Day 4 - Wednesday
Yoga class, Breakfast, The course continues with a food and wine workshop: The principles of food and wine matching and the characteristics of the Noble Grape varieties. And common wine faults, service and storage.


Lunch at the castle, an afternoon free to take a walk in to nearby Seggiano for coffee and to see the late 16th century Sanctuary of the Madonna della Carita or to relax with a book from the many shelves within the castle libraries (Charlotte and Alexander tell me they could fill TWO castles with all the books they own!).

A traditional 4 course Italian Meal in the castle dining room.

Day 5 - Thursday


Yoga followed by a Champagne and Sparkling wine breakfast - all in the name of study. Plus WSET Level 1 Exam.


Lunch at the castle, and the opportunity to relax within the castle walls or join the team of olive pickers to continue the harvest.


Celebratory evening meal - to toast the 2019 olive harvest and the completion of the WSET Level 1 course.



Yoga, Breakfast and departure



Castello di Potentino lies in a secret valley nestled in one of the last undiscovered corners of Tuscany - the Amiata.

Airports: Nearest airports are Pisa (2hrs 15 minutes), Florence Peretola (2hrs 30 minutes), Perugia (2hrs 15 minutes, but difficult driving) Rome Fiumicino (3hrs) and Rome Ciampino (3 hrs 30 minutes)

By Car: We recommend that people coming to Potentino come by car as it gives the maximum amount of freedom and there are no local taxi services on Monte Amiata.

Coordinates: 42.924265, 11.543227

Train Stations: Grosseto is the nearest mainline station (50 minutes by car) although Chiusi/Chianciano Terme is also an option. There are also nearer stations at Buonconvento and Paganico but the trains are infrequent and transport can be difficult to arrange from there. Train timetables are available here.

Taxis And Private Cars: There are usually taxis available at Grosseto station. They should cost about €100-€120. If you would like us to organise a private car, we can do so.

Buses: Buses can be found to our local towns Seggiano and Castel del Piano from Grosseto train station. The timetable is available at Tiemme SPA.

Electric Vehicles: We have two chargers for Electric Vehicles, one for Teslas and one for other cars which are free to use.