Updated: Aug 14, 2020
Veneto is the leading Italian wine producer in terms of quantity, and has an area of over 75,000 hectares of vines, 60% of which on the plains and 40% in the hills, with a limited percentage of mountain viticulture. Let's discover the roots of this great tradition together.
Territory and wines in Veneto
Veneto is a region of mountain, alpine and pre-Alpine chains, extensive hilly areas and a vast flat expanse that covers almost 60% of the total area. The mountainous area covers 26% of the region, while the hilly areas represent 14% of the territory. The presence of the mountains and the vast portion of plain means that there are significant temperature variations between summer and winter: mild near Lake Garda and in the coastal area, particularly torrid during the summer season. Veneto is one of the top regions in Italy for wine production in terms of volume. World-famous names appear among the wines that are produced there: Amarone, Recioto, Soave, Prosecco, Valpolicella and Bardolino. One of the reasons for the great success of Veneto in the wine sector is its heritage of indigenous vines, including Garganega,Trebbiano di Soave,Prosecco, Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara (white) and Raboso (red). The other reason is its territorial diversity, with areas characterized by alluvial or volcanic soil, with hills or flat areas, which allow the production of wines of different types, from pleasant to more full-bodied, complex ones.
The History of Viticulture in Veneto
The presence of vines in Veneto dates back to the pre-Romanesque period, although the first mentions of the wines from this area were given by the Romans in the seventh century BC, with references by Columella and Pliny the Old among others. Acinatico, the ancestor of Recioto (di Soave, di Gambellara and di Valpolicella), was a passito wine drunk by the Romans. A long time passed between the barbarian devastation and the rise of the trading power of the Republic of Venice, which allowed Veneto wines to be exported to other countries, but which also led to the introduction of vine cuttings from distant countries, like Greece and Cyprus. In the mid-1500s the fame of the wines from the Treviso, Vicenza and Valpolicella areas began to increase. The first studies on the characteristics of the territory and the varieties of vine date back to the 1800s. In the mid-1800s, with the arrival of powdery mildew, then downy mildew and, finally, phylloxera, Veneto viticulture entered its darkest period. The difficulties also laid the foundations for the rebirth - even if it was only after 1950 that the real recovery of oenology in Veneto started and we began to understand the strategic importance of quality - of a process that gave its first results during the '90s and which is still alive today.
Moving from east to west, we first find the area of Colline del Garda Veronese and Valpolicella, characterized by the cultivation of black grape vines such as Corvina, Rondinella and Molilnara, used to make Bardolino and Valpolicella wine. Lugana, a crisp white wine made from the Trebbiano di Soave grape, is produced between the provinces of Verona and Mantua. It is also known locally as Turbiana or Trebbiano di Lugana. Between the Lessini Mountains and the Berici Hills we find the area of Soave and Gambellara, known for its white wines with a Garganega base. The Berici Hills are especially famous for their red wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Tocai Rosso, similar to Cannonau or Grenache. The piedmont area of Vicenza is well known for its black grapes, as well as for its native Vespaiola grape, from which the dessert wine Torcolato di Breganze is made. International red vines and the yellow Muscat grape, from which the Moscato Fior d'Arancio DOCG (Orange Blossom) originates, grow mainly in the Padua area, on the Euganean Hills, while the Friularo grape, a local name given to Raboso Piave, characteristic of Treviso, is grown in the flat area to the south of the city. The original Prosecco area (made today with the grape variety called Glera) with the most important Italian sparkling wine district that now embraces almost all of the Triveneto, is also in the Treviso area.
Food&Wine: a long-lasting marriage in Veneto
Veneto owes its traditional cuisine to the Serenissima and to the variety of products that its businesses helped spread throughout the territory. Appetizers include sarde in saor (fried sardines with onion, seasoned with vinegar, sugar and accompanied with pine nuts and raisins) and boiled granseola (spider crab served with garlic, oil and parsley) as well as numerous PDO and PGI cured meats. Among the first courses, bigoli (egg pasta) replace spaghetti and are served with traditional sauces such as arna (duck), with sardea (sardines) or luganega (sausage). Cansunziei, pumpkin or spinach ravioli with cooked ham or chard, are served with melted butter or smoked ricotta. Sopa coada is pigeon pie with a rather dry consistency, so it is sometimes accompanied by a cup of boiling broth to be consumed separately or poured over it. Rice is used to prepare numerous dishes including risi e bisi (rice boiled with peas), rice and cabbage soup, as well as many different types of risotto. There is also a large variety of main courses, frequently accompanied by the inevitable polenta (boiled cornmeal cream). Baccalà alla Vicentina (Vicenza-style cod cooked with oil, milk, garlic and onions) and pan-fried cuttlefish are among the most popular fish dishes, while favourite meat dishes include faraona in tecia (guinea fowl cooked in a pan), liver cooked Venetian style (with onions, oil, butter, salt and parsley), torresani (pigeons) on the spit and pastissada de caval (horse stew) from Verona. There are numerous vegetables and cheeses with designation of origin, including white Bassano asparagus, and Asiago and Monte Veronese cheese. Among the desserts, in addition to the very famous pandoro from Verona, fritòle (fritters), Venetian galani (fried chiacchere dusted with icing sugar) and zalèti (cornflour and raisin cookies) deserve a mention.
Read related articles:
1) What to eat in Venice
2) What to eat in the Veneto Region
3) The Veneto wine production area
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