Intertwined patches of vines stretch over Italy's northern foothills.
In 2009 Prosecco wine gained DOCG status -- a label of the highest quality. Before then, it was grown, bottled and enjoyed in northern Italy's Veneto region for years, as a simple, light but entertaining wine, without much hype.
'Immersed in nature, with your palate tickled by tiny bubbles and local delicacies'
Strict regulations regarding the area and methods of production according to the D.O.C.G or D.O.C label, have transformed Veneto's simple wine into something rather glamorous, not Champagne status, no never, but where there's a party these days, be it London or Shanghai, there seems to be a Prosecco.
Veneto and Friuli
The green hills now produce almost 500 million bottles of Prosecco annually, to keep up with foreign demand Veneto hills are chequered with rows upon rows of vines, with little space to spare. A rather sad truth is one that the locals discuss amongst themselves, with not much influence or opportunity to make a change. Few families venture out into their beautiful landscape for nature walks and the reason is simple: to keep production rates up, farmers cannot afford to risk losing crops to changing weather patterns, pests or diseases, thus Prosecco vines are sprayed more frequently than ever before and the acidic, chemical smell of pesticides throughout summer and into autumn is not pleasant. Apart from the smell, pesticides damage delicate eco-systems in particular bee sustainability. Talk to a farmer and they'll swear they stick to strict spraying times, avoiding schools and residential areas, but walk the hills and you'll hesitate to take a deep breath of 'fresh' country air.
Veneto and Friuli are wine regions, across Italy every region is defined by its flavours, wines and dishes but Veneto seems to intertwine wine into its very fibre. A strong historic contribution lies in Conegliano, a bustling, industrious city, with the unique School of Viticulture and Enology, proudly training young people from the age of 14 in the art of wine farming.
The Glera grape makes up 85% of Prosecco wine, it's a productive grape of the Veneto and Friuli region which ripens late in the harvesting season. With high acidity and a neutral palate, Glera is perfect for sparkling wine production, easy-drinking and low in alcohol. The other 15% in your Prosecco bottle may be a blend of local Verdiso or international grape varieties like Pino Grigio or Pino Bianco.
It's Glera that makes Prosecco Prosecco and since 2009, we now officially recognise the grape as such. With a crisp aromatic profile of white peaches, Prosecco is sold as Dry, Extra Dry and Brut but don't be fooled by the wording, Brut contains the least amount of sugar and Dry the most.
The Prosecco Route (Strada del Prosecco) hugs the hills from Conegliano to Valdobbiadene with stops at many beautiful wine farms (cantine), over180 in the area. We'll list you a few of our favourites but there are many springing up along the winding roads, with wine-tasting, local produce, restaurants and accommodation. It's a stunning area of Italy to spend a few days in, especially if you love Prosecco, but also a marvellous day trip from Venice, an hour's drive and you are far away from canals and crowds, immersed in nature, with your palate tickled by tiny bubbles and local delicacies. Chat to the staff, they're more than likely wives, sons and daughters of farmers who've loved and worked this land for generations. Produce is often family-made, like salami or soppressa made from their livestock, they'll proudly and happily share stories and wares with appreciative guests.
Mention needs to be made of this sleepy hillside town that claims to produce the 'best Prosecco' of the entire lot.
The area is dotted with wineries as far as the eye can see and needs to be on your itinerary if you have one. You'll notice the grapevines clinging to the steep roadsides for a prized place in this little hamlet (commune) just to claim a mention on the bottle label. Taste the Prosecco here and look out for Prosecco Cartizze which, if Valdobbiadene is the pinnacle of the Stada del Prosecco, well then Cartizze is the pinnacle of that pinnacle, quite literally. Cartizze is a hill. A very special hill.
Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze, must be produced from hand-harvested fruit from the special hill and aged for six months. With a minimum alcohol percentage of 11.5%, there's something special, and rather exclusive, about a bottle of Cartizze.
Here are some of our faves:
Conegliano Castle Restaurant - Conegliano
De Brun - Cison di Valmarino
Trattoria al Forno - Refrontolo
Locanda Codirosso - Tarzo
Agriturismo Claudia Augusta Altinate - Valmareno
Osteria senza Oste - Valdobbiadene
The Prosecco Route - itinerary
Osteria senza Oste is a uniquely immersive Prosecco experience. Located at the base of the Cartizze hill, a charming, old, stone, house has become an Osteria in every sense but without a host! On your Prosecco travels, make sure to stop off for an aperitivo or some lunch, read all about it here.