Valpolicella: A Unique Wine Producing Area in Italy
Valpolicella, located north of Verona, is one of the most prominent wine producing regions in Italy. Besides wineries, the place is rich with picturesque villages, medieval churches, and a population of most welcoming people in Italy. From Valpolicella, you can easily visit a number of famous tourist destinations including Lake Garda, Verona and the mountains of Lessini. This area has a long tradition of wine production since the name ‘Valpolicella’ originated from ‘Valle poli cellae’ which means ‘Vally of multiple cellars’ in Latin. Wine tours at Valpolicella are quite a pleasure with the opportunity to look at the making process of famous its famous wines, especially the Amarone. You can find a number of wineries around where visitors can easily go to taste and buy wines.
Valpolicella is a place worth a visit on its own merit, regardless of the wine attractions. The region has a very pleasant climate all around the year. During the summertime, Valpolicella can be an ideal destination if you are looking for a few days in a quite place blessed with abundant natural beauty. The spectacular Lake Garda is quite close and there are options to participate in all kinds of fun activities such as sailing, windsurfing, swimming, and hiking. You will find a number of fine restaurants around here offering some incredibly delicious traditional Italian dishes, and of course, some exclusive varieties of wine. It’s a romantic escape for couples. Also, if you have an enthusiasm for history, the place has many attractions to offer ranging from old castles to some of the most beautifully decorated medieval churches in Europe.
Although Valpolicella produces the famous fruity variants of Ripasso and Amarone; many bland-tasting wines are also produced in abundance. However, the viticulture of Valpolicella is mainly famous for the dry Amarone and Sweet Recioto and Ripasso wines. All the varieties are produced from the combination of the local grape types such as Rondinella, Negrara, Molinara and Corvina, the most famour one. The wine varieties of Valpolicella are specially acclaimed for their intensity. The unique process for making wine was developed centuries ago.
Ripasso is a type of red wine produced mainly in the zone of Veneto. For decades, the winemakers have continuously improved the techniques to intensify the depth and complexity. The Passito and Ripasso are two very successful methods. To make passito wine, farmers dry the grapes for weeks or even for months before the fermentation process. As the grapes get dried, natural sugars and flavors of grapes become denser. Eventually, they produced wines become more alcoholic. Ripasso method refers to the re-fermentation of (re-pass) of the grapes that already passed through the passito process for a more condensed character of wine.
Amarone della Valpolicella, popularly known as Amarone, is the most celebrated and prestigious wine of Valpolicella. Passito method is followed to produce Amarone. The amarone was developed on the pursuit of local winemakers to find a way to increase the body of wine. All the locally grown grape seeds except Corvina usually produce light wines. Only Corvina is known for its deep concentration of substance. Valpolicella winemakers start to use a technique to thicken the natural sugars and aromatics in the wines. They start to dry the grapes after harvesting through a specific process that reduces water from the grapes yet retains the flavor and sugars.
Initially, this process resulted into sweeter types of wine, which is now known as Recioto della Valpolicella. Then the makers came up with the amarone and it gradually became the most recognized wine of Valpolicella. The word Amarone is originated from Italian word ‘amaro’ which means bitter. Considering the initial sweet Recioto wine, the name completely makes sense. Local corvina grapes are used to make Amarone. Besides the prestigious Corvina type, mainly two types of grape are used: Rondinella and Molinara.
Besides the wine tours, you have other things to do in the nearby areas of Valpolicella. You can visit and stay at the beautiful villas in Negrar. Lying between Verona and Garda Lake, Negrar is blessed with simple and rustic beauty. Pedemonte of Verona is another great destination with a number of notable sites such as Ponte Scaligero Bridge, Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, Castelvecchio museum, Sant’ Anastasia Church and Gavi Church. Also, take a visit to the small commune of San Pietro in Cariano. The Romanesque Pieve of San Floriano is an important historical artifact of this town that was established in the 10th Century. The Park Falls of Molina presents an altogether different attraction with its spectacular waterfalls. The small towns beside the park can take you back in time to the medieval age. Molina gives you a chance to relax amid the purity of nature.
Valpolicella is obviously one of the most underrated tourist destinations. With all its scenic beauty, hospitable people, easy access to other places and amazing winery in the region; the place deserve to be in the list of places to visit of any tourist coming to Italy.
written by Gabriele Monti