Explore the four most popular wine regions in Italy that will leave you thirsty for more.
Italy’s diverse and undulating landscape has produced over 800 different grape varieties for millennia and continues to satisfy the insatiable thirst of visitors near and far. With over twenty different wine-growing regions, each with their unique methods and nuances, we’ve narrowed your options to some of our favorite wineries and those you should definitely add to your must-visit list.
Famed for its mature and bold red wines, Piedmont harbored a troubled past with regard to its grape-growing abilities, when Phylloxera, a grape pest invaded the region in the late 1800s. Since then, many vines across the region were replanted and now the most well recognized grape variety is Barbera, known for its deep color, full body, low tannins and high levels of acidity. As Italy’s third most common red wine grape variety, these days it is often blended with Nebbiolo to create a more contemporary and approachable flavor. The Nebbiolo grape is used in both Barolo and Barbaresco wines which are also renowned in the region.
Fine wine doesn’t get much better than at La Spinetta, located in the Asti area of Piedmont. Founded in 1977, the winery first produced sparkling white wine from Moscato grapes but then progressed to produce Barolo and Barbaresco. La Spinetta wines have attained many accolades, namely the Tre Bicchieri award for more than thirty of their wines, so you can certainly expect nothing but the best. Housing wines that date back on average to 1960-1980, the workers tend to the vineyard on foot, with owner, Giorgio, plowing the field twice a year with his work horse.
The vineyard takes advance bookings for tours and wine tastings inviting visitors to go behind the scenes. At 95 euros per person, visitors can spend a day at La Spinetta and Contratto, touring the wine cellars, followed by tastings and the chance to see the disgorgement of a wine bottle by hand. You’ll come away with a wealth of knowledge from what may just be one of the best wineries in Piedmont.
Veneto is Italy’s most diverse wine-growing region, formed from a bold repertoire of refreshing whites, from Soave to Prosecco, as well as sumptuous reds, like the fruity tones of Valpolicella, the full-bodied red Amarone and the light red wine of Bardolino, produced on the shores of Lake Garda. The cooler conditions afforded by its location in the north-east of Italy, protected by the Dolomites, mean the Garganega white wine grape variety thrives.
Located close to Lake Garda, OnePiò Winery is one of the top wineries in Veneto, offering tastings and vineyard tours around the Lugana area. They showcase their delectable collection of wines, from Amarone Classico, Lugana DOC, Valpolicella Ripasso to Cabernet Sauvignon. For every kind of wine-drinker, the vineyard offers Bronze, Silver and Gold packages allowing visitors to decide how many wines to sample and how detailed they wish the tour to be. The OnePiò Winery describes itself as “the perfect combination of tradition and innovation” which rings true through its charming offering of wine, culture, relaxation and exclusive food experiences.
Residing as Italy’s oldest wine-producing region, all the way to the 8th century BC, Chianti will surely strike a chord with many as its Tuscany’s most well-known wine. With its picturesque rolling hills and valleys, it’s no wonder then, that Tuscany established the first set of criteria for quality wines, the DOC and DOCG zones. The Sangiovese grapes, with their bright acidity, red cherry flavors and herbal tones, are native to the region and form part of the blends of many wine varieties produced here. Chianti wines must contain at least 70% Sangiovese and can also be found blended with other grapes for Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Castello di Nipozzano is one of the most atmospheric and authentic wineries situated in North Tuscany. With a storied history of great Florentine artists purchasing wines from the estate almost a thousand years ago, this winery offers a true Tuscan tour like no other. Your visit will be formed of a tour of the cellars used to age Chianti Rufina and a visit to the tasting room in the old kitchen, all amid charming vistas overlooking the Arno river valley.
Potentially the least well-known but certainly up there with some of the best wine-growing regions in Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige (South Tyrol) is Italy’s northernmost wine region, located on the border with Austria. Producing the famed Pinot Grigio as well as mature red wines such as Lagrein, the region is certainly one not to miss off your list.
One wouldn’t have served the region justice if they didn’t visit a winery that produced the famed white wine varieties of Tuscany, from Pinot Blanc and Grigio to Chardonnay. Working a total area of 190 hectares, the equivalent of 1.5 million bottles of wine are produced each year at Cantina Terlano, a cooperative winery that offers visitors tours and tastings of their current vintages.
For a true and authentic taste of Italy’s sumptuous wine varieties, we highly recommend booking onto a few wine tours to channel the expertise of the growers whilst also developing and enhancing your own palate for the varying flavors. For the purveyors of fine wine, Italy couldn’t be more perfect.