Regional capital: Venice (Venezia)
Provinces: Belluno, Padova, Rovigo, Treviso, Venezia, Verona, Vicenza.
Veneto is a wine region in north-eastern Italy, one of a group of three highly productive Italian regions known collectively as the Venezie (after the ancient Venetian Republic) and the biggest DOC producer of the three. Although the Venezie collectively produce more red wine than white, the Veneto region produces more whites under DOC and is home to the famous Soave wines.
Climate and Geography
The region is protected from the harsh northern European climate by the Alps, the foothills of which form the Veneto's northern extremes. These cooler climes are well-suited to white varieties like Garganega (the main grape for Soave wines) while the warmer Adriatic coastal plains and river valleys are where the renowned Valpolicella, Amarone and Bardolino DOC reds are produced.
The first human settlements of the lagoon and the surrounding areas maintained a simple social structure until the arrival of the Romans in the second century B.C. who divided the land into parcels of about 4,800 square meters and distributed those tracts among the locals to be cultivated.
The Romans founded the cities of Verona, Vicenza, and Padova, and named what was then the 10th imperial region, Venetia. Both the Veneto region and the province of Venice (Venezia in Italian) derive their names from the original Latin name of the area. The precursor of the city of Venice that we know today was founded during the Middle Ages when the locals escaped the barbaric invasions that followed the decline of the Roman Empire by taking refuge in coastal areas, islands, and the lagoon’s marshland.
The Venetian trade routes that connected Europe with Asia brought great wealth and general prosperity to the region. In many provinces, especially around Treviso, mulberry cultivation and the breeding of silkworms imported from China brought more affluence and prestige to local residents. With money pouring in from all quarters, Venice began its great building projects, chief among them creating the lagoon and canal infrastructure and systems still enjoyed and used today.
Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th centuries following the opening of the Suez Canal, Venice once again became an important port city. Foreign investment financed the creation of the industrial infrastructure of Porto Marghera and freed the port of Venice from the burden of commercial navigation. Improved communications technology has allowed the rest of Italy and the world beyond closer ties to Venice, and has contributed to making Venice into an incomparable tourist destination.
The long period of power and splendor that blessed Venice encouraged the highest quality creations by local artisans. The ongoing request for jewelry, precious fabrics, lace, glass, wood and ceramic products by the noble Venetians shaped the development of typical stores along the narrow calli (streets) of Venice as well as factories both inland and on the lagoon islands. Up to today, popular tourist destinations are the Murano and Burano islands, famed for their glasswork and needlepoint products.
Venice's region is Italy's leader in the production and commerce of classified wine. A major share of the DOC (which represents about 225 million bottles a year) consists of the Verona trio of Soave, Bardolino and Valpolicella. But since DOC represents less than a fifth of the region's total, the Veneto also figures as a major producer and exporter of unclassified table wines, often of moderate price.
There are three general areas of premium production: the western province of Verona in the hills between Lake Garda and the town of Soave; the central hills in the provinces of Vicenza, Padova and Treviso; the eastern plains of the Piave and Tagliamento river basins along the Adriatic coast northeast of Venice.
Verona's classic wines are bona fide natives. Soave, from Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave, is usually dry and still, though spumante and sweet Recioto versions are also prescribed. Third after Chianti and Asti Spumante in volume among classified wines (with some 50 million litres a year), Soave has long been Italy's most popular DOC wine abroad.
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, is very high in volume among DOCs with about 35 million litres. Valpolicella is noted as a full and fruity red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Val- policella.
Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy's most authoritative red wines. Bardolino, from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink "chiaretto" version. Recent popularity is due largely to its emergence as Italy's first DOC novello. This DOC on the shores of Lake Garda also ranks high on the list of volume with about 20 million litres a year.
Another Veronese DOC of note is Bianco di Custoza, strikingly similar to Soave. A recent DOC made between Verona and Vicenza is Lessini Durello, a steely dry white, usually sparkling, that seems destined for wider recognition. A trend in the Verona area is to make alternative wines of distinction. Some innovative reds are gaining prominence, notably the so-called "ripasso" types made from the base of Valpolicella refermented with the pomace of Amarone.
The Veneto's central hills take in several DOC zones. Near Vicenza are Gambellara, with whites similar to those of neighbouring Soave, and Colli Berici, where varietal wines from Tocai, the Pinots, Merlot and Cabernet prevail. Also in the province is Berganze, where Cabernet and whites from the Pinots and Chardonnay and the sweet Torcolato stand out. Near Padova are the Colli Euganei, whose sheer slopes render a range of varietals.
Treviso's province takes in the hills northwest of Venice between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadne, noted for the popular Prosecco, a dry to lightly sweet white, usually bubbly. A refined version is known as Cartizze. The adjacent Montello e Colli Asolani zone, is noted for Prosecco, Cabernet and Merlot, as well as the renowned "vino da tavola" Venegazzu` della Casa. Producers of Prosecco, already well versed in sparkling wine, have been increasing Pinot and Chardonnay Spumanti, usually dry and made either by the tank fermentation or the classical method.
The plains northeast of Venice take in the Piave DOC zone, where Merlot and Cabernet dominate an expanding range of trendy varietals, though the local red Raboso and white Verduzzo still attract admirers. Lison-Pramaggiore (previously noted for white Tocai, Cabernet and Merlot) now also has a full list of varietals.
In red wines, Merlot and Cabernet Franc have been the workhorse varieties of the central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers have been blending the two, increasingly with Cabernet Sauvignon, and ageing the wine in small barrels to develop greater style and complexity. Throughout the region the recent emphasis is on white wines. Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and especially Chardonnay are gaining ground.
Veneto's growers are among the most modernised in Italy. While most of the 'classic' wines from this area are based on native grape varieties like Prosecco and Verduzzo, high demand for Veneto wines in the European and US markets has galavanized the region's producers into experimantation with Cabernets, Chardonnay and Pinot varieties, among others. One of Italy's leading wine schools, Conegliano, is based here and the nation's most important wine fair, Vinitaly, takes place each spring in Verona.
Veneto is the 8th largest region of Itlay in land mass, and a population of 4,371,000 ranks it 6th in that regard. It has over 90,000 hectares of vineyards, of which 35,400 being acclaimed DOC. Annual production totals 8,500,000 hectolitres, 1,700,000 or 21% of which is DOC, making it the biggest DOC producer in Italy. White wine accounts for 55% of the DOC production in Veneto.
- Amarone della Valpolicella
- Asolo Prosecco Superiore (new)
- Bardolino Superiore -The wine made with the oldest vines can used the added mention "Classico". When paret of the grapes are crushed "in white", the wine can use the qualification "Chiaretto".
- Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore (new)
- Colli di Conegliano
- Colli Euganei Fiori d’Arancio
- Friularo di Bagnoli
- Montello Rosso or Rosso del Montello
- Piave Malanotte (or Malanotte del Piave)
- Recioto della Valpolicella (new)
- Recioto di Gambellara
- Recioto di Soave
- Soave Superiore
- Bagnoli di Sopra or Bagnoli - It may use the definition "vigna" (vineyard) followed by the specific name. The wine made from the oldest vines can use the added denomination "Classico".
- Bianco di Custoza
- Breganze - Added Mentions: Riserva, Superiore
- Colli Berici
- Colli Euganei
- Corti Benedettine del Padovano
- Garda and Garda Classico
- Lessini Durello
- Lison Pramaggiore
- Montello e Colli Asolani
- Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene - Sub zone: Superiore di Cartizze
- San Martino Della Battaglia
- Valdadige or Etschtaler
- Valpolicella or Recioto della Valpolicella
- Vini del Piave or Piave
- Alto Livenza
- Colli Trevigiani
- Delle Venezie
- Marca Trevigiana
- Provincia di Verona or Veronese
- Veneto orientale
- Vigneti delle Dolomiti
Grapes and wines
Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions, both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.
The three most well known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Garda Lake, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a rich and powerful red from the Verona province). If you travel to the Treviso area, look for the little-known Clinton, a wine that is banned from distribution because it does not conform to the DOC standards, but is produced in limited quantities for local consumption.
The importance of winemaking in this region is underscored by the creation in 1885 of the very first Italian school for vine growing and oenology. In addition, Veneto was the first region to constitute the first strada del vino or "wine road". This first wine-touring road featured special road signs providing information on vines and the wines they were made into and joined the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano DOC zones crossing a series of hilly vineyards.
The most appreciated wines in the region come from the provinces of Treviso, Verona, Padova, Venice, and Vicenza. The area around Verona, with its temperate climate and hilly surrounding, is believed to have cultivated grapes since the Bronze Age.