Veneto wine tours: discover Lake Garda and the vine-clad hills of the Venetian hinterland

Venice, with its brooding palaces, winding alleyways and lights reflecting on the still waters of the canals, is an alluring location for a secret wine tour. Venice has many bacari, the local name for a wine bar, where you can stop off and sip a Prosecco or one of the many other wines produced in the Veneto and nibble on some cichetti, i.e. bar snacks such as polenta or crostini.

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Certainly, wine tours in Venice itself will take you around many of the historic bacari which dot the city, often hidden down seemingly inpenetrable alleyways, they are generally packed to the gills with locals, so standing room only, and perhaps only outside.

Wine tours from Venice will give you a chance to visit the Veneto countryide with its vine-clad hills dotted with Palladian villas and flat plains with rice paddies. You could also visit the entrancing Lake Garda on the border with Lombardy where you can sample wines from Bardolino and Lugana.

The charming small town of Bardolino lies on the eastern shore of Lake Garda and is home to Bardolino Superiore DOCG, a light red wine with bright crunchy red fruit and berries, produced from the Corvina variety with the addition of Rondinella and the light Molinara, which adds an attractive spiciness. A light rosé, called Chiaretto, is also produced from the same varieties and makes a perfect summer sipper on the lakeshore.

The Lugana DOC, shared with neighbouring Lombardy, lies to the south of the lake and produces crisp fruity whites and sparklers from the Turbiana, as Trebbiano di Lugana is known locally.

Veneto wine tours will also lead you through the valley of many cellars, aka Valpolicella, to the northeast of Verona, capital of Veneto’s wine country. Verona itself, home to the greatest number of roman ruins outside Rome itself, including the superbly preserved Arena which is host to a summer open-air opera festival, and of course to Shakespeare’s Juliet should also reature high on any wine tours from Venice. In Valpolicella, you can sample the light, fruity red Valpolicella and also two more specialities produced from grapes produced from the appassimento process. Air-dried grapes yield the alcoholic, velvety dry Amarone della Valpolicella and the luscious sweet Recioto della Valpolicella. Many modern standard Valpolicella wines also add in some Amarone style wine for richness or pour the Valpolicella over the fermented Amarone skills for added richness, which is then known as Ripasso.

Any good Venice wine tour should also take in Soave, where you can sample the DOCG wines of Soave Superiore and Soave Superiore Classico. These crisp, white, fruity and sometimes mineral wines traditionally produced from Garganega with the addition of up to 30% Trebbiano di Soave are starting to make a comeback, with serious producers now crafting some more aromatic structured wines. You shouldn’t miss the Recioto di Soave either, a luscious sweet wine tasting of apricots and candied orange peel. Lovers of Garganega should also seek out the Gambellara DOC to find a purer expression of the variety, as 90% is required here; they also produce a Recioto version.

A visit to the the dramatic hillside of Cartizze in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG zone of Prosecco is also a must-do. Here only spumante Prosecco is produced from the Glera variety in 43 Rive – individual vineyards – in 12 municipalities. This south-facing slope represents one of the most expensive vineyard areas in Italy. Sipping a glass of Prosecco, representing the essence of the region’s terroir is the perfect way to end any Veneto wine tour. Venice is beckoning; aperitif time is approaching.

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