Tasting and learning about the world of wine, with a particular focus on the wines of Italy - Come to private villa La Torre alle Tolfe for a relaxing, restorative and rejuvenating week learning about wine, eating exquisite food, practicing daily yoga and visiting some of the most beautiful wineries in Italy…and return home with a globally respected wine qualification WSET Level 2.



In 2007 I began a Facebook Group called “Women! Know Your Wine!”. I had been working in the wine trade for 3 years, and as a Sommelier for 2 and I had noticed that many of the women I served wished they knew more about the wines they enjoyed, and wished they could verbalise what it was about the wines they disliked! My girlfriends were also really keen to know more about wine, but did not know where to look for an education that wasn’t too formal or dull. So i started this blog and it grew and grew, I was asked into a meeting with a publisher…but they were concerned that by appealing only to women I would be missing out on half of the market. I was a little disheartened by the editor meeting, and overwhelmed whizzing, banging and popping ( a pop up restaurant I had started with two great chef friends had received national and international attention and our one weekend, just for fun pop up suddenly became a more serious project) so all went quiet on the ”W!KYW!” front.

When I visited La Torre alle Tolfe, I thought, perhaps “Women! Know Your Wine!” might work better as an interactive week of wine tasting with lots of other activities that make learning as fun and easy as possible - so visits to famous wine regions to see, smell and taste on spot - Brunello in Montalcino anybody?? and some fabulous food to appease the appetite - as wine tasting really makes you hungry. Plus daily morning yoga and meditation, and masterclasses with our top chefs in pasta, risotto and breadmaking, and sightseeing in Siena…A happy, holistic approach to wine appreciation.


A willingness to know more about wine and taste around 50 wines over the course of the week, is all that is required of the WSET Level 2 student. Level 2 is beginner to intermediate level qualification for wine enthusiasts exploring the world of wines and spirits (and for our particular week, we will be able, thanks to our location, to go into Italian wines with greater focus).

This qualification explores the major grape varieties and important wine regions in which they are grown. You’ll learn about the styles of wines produced from these grapes as well as key classifications and labelling terminology. A basic overview of the key categories of spirits and liqueurs will also be provided. Upon successful completion you will receive a WSET certificate and lapel pin.

What you will learn:

  • How wine is made

  • What factors influence wine style

  • The key white and black grape varieties and their characteristics

  • The important wine-producing regions of the world in which these grapes are grown

  • The production of sparkling, sweet, and fortified wines


La Torre alle Tolfe is a private hilltop villa centred on an 8th century tower ‘La Torre’ with 17 beautiful bedrooms. Set in landscaped gardens amongst vineyards and olive groves but a mere 3km from the remarkable Medieval city of Siena.

The estate covers 100 hectares of fields and forests, extending over rolling hills towards Siena, and out towards the heart of the Chianti region. There are spectacular views in every direction. The entire property is run as a certified organic farm, producing a variety of wines, and premium olive oil, with the arable land producing a variety of organic grains and pulses. The lack of pesticides and other intensive agrichemicals means that the fields and forests are also home to a rich fauna and a remarkable variety of wildflowers.

The Villa was furnished by the Castelli family over several decades, and their love for the Tuscan history and art is reflected in the furniture, art and artefacts throughout the Villa. Spacious rooms on the ground floor include an elegant dining hall and two comfortable sitting rooms. Upstairs, guests can enjoy a large billiards room with views over the garden. Each of the 17 spacious bedrooms has been named after one of the 17 contrade (districts) of Siena. The rooms are spread over three floors, with lift access. The traditional, thick, stone walls help to keep the house cool through the summer months. 

Outdoors we have a “bocce” court through the olives, a short distance from the villa. Bocce is a characteristic Italian game, similar to bowls. The court lies in the dappled shade of a small woodland. Atmospheric lighting also allows games to be played in the evenings. There is also a hard tennis court in the shade of tall evergreen oaks. Indoors there is a billiards table, or guests may want to try their hands at the more traditionally Italian game of funghetto biliardo.

Guest are welcome to explore the wider estate – walking or even trail running. The estate extends over a mosaic of olive groves, vineyards and woodlands, criss-crossed with tracks and paths. Trekking around Le Tolfe guarantees beautiful scenery and an opportunity to discover the local flora and fauna. For the more adventurous, it is possible to walk, or cycle, beyond the property, and to explore the adjacent Chianti region rich in places of interest. Nearby, these include the former monastery of Pontignano and its well-known Italian gardens, the Chianti Sculpture Park, Brolio Castle, the borgo or hamlet of Monteliscai, and Trecciolino’s Palio horse-training yard.


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 off the charts delicious. He will be cooking using vegetables from the villa ‘orto’ (vegetable garden), grain from our fields, and the fruit trees on the estate, apricots, plums, figs, cherries. Meat, and fish are sourced from local organic and free range producers.

Guests are welcome to pop into the villa 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.


For those who like to start their day with a spot of stretching and mindful breathing, we have daily yoga with meditation classes starting at 7:30 by the pool or in the Limonaia (a studio in the lemon tree’s “winter home”). There are also tracks for runs and hikes around the estate for those keen for a breathtakingly scenic start to the day.


  • Ensuite Triple Room (Based on three people sharing) € per person

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

  • Ensuite Single €

  • Ensuite Double Room, Single Occupancy €


  • Full board at La Torre alle Tolfe, All meals and lodging at the villa (Lunches and Dinners include wine). There will be one day you can enjoy independently at your leisure in SIena, sightseeing or shopping so one lunch is not included. The evening meal will be back at the villa.

  • WSET Course Level 2 Tuition and all course materials, study guide, stationary, food and wine samples (over 50 wines from around the world will be tasted including the wines of Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Barolo) and exam.

  • Daily Meditation and Yoga class

  • Foraging walk with a local expert

  • Group transfer to/from Siena centre, Orientation coffee in Piazza del Campo

  • Tour and wine tasting at Villa di Geggiano

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

  • Group Transfer from Pisa Airport departing 16:00 for Le Tolfe on Saturday 22 June / Return Group Transfer for Pisa Airport at 10:00 on Saturday 29 June.


Please click the SIGN UP box and fill in the form - You will be contacted via email or phone - whichever you prefer to organise and confirm your booking. Very much looking forward to meeting and raising a glass or two with you!


La Torre alle Tolfe

Strada delle Tolfe, 14

53100 SIENA

The name, La Torre alle Tolfe, tradition has it, comes from a certain Tolfo dei Gricci, one of Charlemagne’s knights, who first built a tower and castle here around 785 AD. It would have served as a lookout point on the emperor’s route between Lyon in France and Rome.

4km from Siena train station
79km from Florence airport
117km from Pisa airport
Navigation location: 43.3472N, 11.3472E



 Day 1

Welcome aperitivo and Wine Tasting with Charlotte Horton, Castello di Potentino’s owner and winemaker who will guide you through the castle’s award winning wines. Evening meal in the castle dining room.

Day 2
Yoga class, breakfast and the course begins, “Introduction to wine, Types and Styles and the Principal Grape Varieties” 
Lunch followed by a trip to the town of Montalcino. Free time for shopping, gelato, a glass of Brunello!
Brunello Tasting at a famous estate in Montalcino followed by a 4 course meal with wines:
Day 3
Yoga Class and the course continues with a food and wine workshop: “The principles of food and wine matching and the characteristics of the Noble Grape varieties.”
Time to relax before a late afternoon trip to the thermal baths of Bagno Vignoni, an ancient village in the Val d’Orcia natural park well known for its hot springs
Tuscan pork butchery demonstration. Learn about the essential cuts in Tuscan cooking.
BBQ on braziers in the courtyard, tasting and drinking! of wines from Chianti Classico and Montepulciano.
Day 4
Daily yoga and/or a morning hike through the vineyards to the Etruscan winemaking stones (Both optional), Brunch. Wine session “Common wine faults, service and storage”
Freetime to relax by the pool, in the castle libraries, or take a walk into nearby village of Seggiano.
Pasta and Risotto Masterclass with the top Vernaccia from Tuscany’s most famous white wine producing region - San Gimignano, followed by dinner in the castle dining room.
Day 5
Morning yoga and breakfast