Since we spend a total of around six months total time in Italy each year, we like to take a few trips from our home base here in Umbria and explore other regions of Italy as much as we can. Last month we spent a wonderful five days in Puglia with family, and just last week, my husband and I explored the Prosecco region for three nights. This region is just an hour north of Venice and is about sixty kilometers, or thirty-seven miles long. Italy has strict regulations on the wines grown in its various regions, with the most rigorous classification being DOCG. To obtain this very special DOCG classification, the cantina must follow a very strict list of rules that relate to the types of grapes used, growing conditions, the alcohol content of the wine, production, and aging. The vineyards producing DOCG Prosecco in this tiny region grow their grapes on very hilly land, some with very steep slopes which created the label of heroic harvesting.
All the work involved in taking care of the vines and harvesting the grapes for DOCG Prosecco wines is done by hand, and when you see photos of how difficult it is to harvest these grapes on some slopes as steep as forty-five degrees you can understand where this term heroic harvesting originated. Since this region is so small and the land here is so expensive, the cantina’s are relatively small as well. We did visit a few medium-sized cantina’s that produce about a million bottles of various types of Prosecco, but many of these wines are not sold outside of Italy as the producers are not large enough. There are however, some substantial DOC Prosecco producers who have massive acreage on flat land, and they do their harvesting by machines. These are typically the Prosecco wines we see so often in North America. If you are visiting the Prosecco region, I highly suggest that you visit cantinas that produce Prosecco under the DOCG label, which is the most sought after Prosecco label. Many also may produce some cheaper DOC wines, but the DOCG is considered better quality. If you are interested, you can find the complete list of DOCG wines produced in Italy HERE</a rel=”noopener noreferrer”>.
Maps from Prosecco.it
Once we made the decision to visit this unique region and drive the Prosecco Road, we had to decide which wineries to visit. As there are over a hundred wineries in the DOCG area alone, it took some online research, and luck to choose and schedule our winery tours. We decided to visit a total of five wineries, one the day we arrived, and two each consecutive days. To be honest though, by our fifth cantina tour, we were both a little tired about hearing how Prosecco wine was made and as much as I love Prosecco, I had had enough. Another thing to consider is if you are going to drive yourself from cantina to cantina or hire a driver. We visited just one winery in the morning and one in the afternoon and tasted, rather than drank all the samples offered to us, so we were fine driving ourselves. As well, we were traveling with our little Yorkie Zoe, who we left in the car during our wine tours, which might have been difficult with a driver. We did see several folks during our tours who did hire a driver, and they visited many more wineries each day than we did. Only a few wineries have online forms to fill out requesting tours and tastings, and I’d guess that over half the emails I sent out either were answered too late, or I never received an answer. If there are particular wineries you really would like to visit, I’d phone them directly. All contact information is on their websites. You can see the complete list of DOCG Prosecco wineries HERE.
The Prosecco Road is truly an amazing experience as around every corner, and there is a lot of them, there is a view even more spectacular than the last. The road also passes through several quaint small towns that you can stop by to explore. The road is anchored by the two larger towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, and both these towns are also worth a visit. Within the Prosecco DOCG region, there is an even smaller area near the village of Santo Stefano with a hill called Cartizze. This hill contains the most expensive farmland in all of Italy due to its placement and soil conditions. The constant sun exposure, minerality of the soil, and overall perfect growing conditions makes this hill so special and its wines so expensive. The farmland on Cartizze is owned by about twelve families, and the Cartizze Prosecco is considered the best of the DOCG Prosecco wines. Due to it’s it’s fierce, breathtaking topography, and perilous conditions for harvesting grapes, it’s no surprise to find that the Prosecco region has also recently gained UNESCO World Heritage status.
When we finally chose the wineries we wanted to visit and got confirmation that we were scheduled, I then went on to book our hotels to keep our drives on the Prosecco Road reasonable. Our first lodging was at Tenuta Contarini in San Pietro di Feletto, and although it was okay, I do not think I’d return. The online photos of the hotel must have been taken many years ago, and the place just felt worn and tired to me. For our second lodging, I decided to splurge a bit, and we stayed two nights at Villa Abbazia Relais & Chateaux. The hotel was beautiful, the grounds immaculate, and the staff very friendly and helpful.
After lodging, for me, the next important task is to choose places to eat. Both my husband and I love good food, so where we dine is always essential. While researching this trip, I came across several blogs talking about Osteria Senza Oste, or Osteria Without a Host. This unique place sits on a hill overlooking the valley with spectacular views in all directions. It is a self-service experience, and payment is made by the honor system. You can buy a variety of meats, cheeses, bread, and wines, and then take your meal out to sit on odd tables to eat and enjoy the view. Although I doubt I would go there again, it was a unique and fun experience, and I recommend doing it once! For dinner our first night, I chose Antica Osteria alla Sorte outside of Conegliano, which was a family-run place with an excellent menu. My husband was able to get his fix of fresh porcini mushrooms by starting with a raw mushroom salad and then moving on to fresh pasta with porcini sauce. I enjoyed pear filled tortellini in a light fonduta sauce (cheese sauce), followed by a tagliatta of beef. It was a lovely meal, and the Osteria is one I would return to on future trips.
On our second day, we asked the woman who hosted the wine tour at Lo Tordera to suggest somewhere for a light lunch, and she suggested Casa Caldarte. It turned out to be a great suggestion, and although we initially were concerned upon entering as the restaurant looked quite elegant, it soon filled up with locals, many of them workers grabbing a quick lunch. The food was delicious, very well presented and the restaurant is one I would recommend to anyone. For dinner on our second night, because we were staying at Villa Abazia, we decided to try their famous Michelin Star restaurant La Corte. As expected, the room was lovely, the food delicious, and the presentation of each course photo-worthy. Our only mistake was to choose the tasting menu with wines, and it ended up being too much food. We would have been much better off selecting a couple of courses each off the menu, and a bottle of wine. Although the portions were very small, when you have seven courses, it gets to be a little too much. Gorgeous hotel and restaurant, though, and one I’d love to return to!
On our third day, my husband had come across a Vera Pizza Neapolitan pizzeria in the small town of Follina where we were staying and being a pizza connoisseur, he wanted to try it out. The pizzeria is called Barbato Pizzeria. The menu is limited to just a handful of pizzas, but the two we ordered were perfectly cooked and delicious and received my husband’s seal of approval. For dinner that night, I was on a mission to find a restaurant that served spiedo. This dish had been described to us by a couple of locals, and after researching it, I found out that it was a specialty of the Prosecco area but usually is only available on weekends. It is basically a variety of meats; usually rabbit, pork, and chicken cut into pieces and threaded on long metal skewers studded with slices of lard and fresh herbs, especially sage. The spiedo is placed on a rotating spit and cooked over an open fire until done.
We asked the hotel’s help in finding somewhere that might serve spiedo during the week so we could try it, and they suggested an agriturismo a couple of towns over that is famous for this dish. After calling and finding out that it would indeed be on the menu that night, we made reservations at Osteria Contadino in Combai. Upon arrival, we were greeted by an older woman, not much younger than my elderly Mother-In-Law, who got us settled. After describing to us what was available that night (no written menu), we both chose fresh pasta with porcini mushrooms, and of course, we both had the spiedo to follow. Our host repeatedly suggested we have polenta along with our spiedo, but after having pasta, we declined and asked for a salad instead. She apparently wasn’t happy with our choice because she brought us a bowl of polenta along with salad to be served alongside our spiedo anyway. There was only one other young man in the place the entire night, and it was so quiet the owners sat down and ate dinner at a table near us while we ate. The meal was perfect; the pasta with fresh porcini sauce delicious and the spiedo everything I could have asked
Three nights was just enough time to get a full experience in this unique and beautiful region. I would suggest that anyone visiting the Prosecco road stay at least two nights to get a complete experience. It turned out that we were visiting the wineries the week after harvest had completed so a couple of wineries were still cleaning up and did not want to take us into the cellars. Every cantina was more than happy to do a tasting of their products with us however, in their private tasting rooms. Although folks can even get day tours that originate in Venice, I think you need to stay in the area to really experience it. My husband and I both thoroughly enjoyed our little Prosecco adventure, and I would recommend this tiny region to anyone who enjoys good Prosecco.
Via Cervano 18 – loc. Bagnolo, San Pietro di Feletto, 31020, Italy
Phone: +39 0438 48616
Villa Abbazia Relais & Chateaux
Piazza 4 Novembre 3, Follina, 31051, Italy –
Str. delle Treziese, 4, 31049 Valdobbiadene TV
Open 24 hours
Phone: 339 523 5810
Antica Osteria alla Sorte
Via Costa Alta, 68, 31015 Conegliano TV
Phone: 0438 24128
Via Roma, 24
31051 Follina (Tv)
Phone: 0039 0438 971 761
Via Erizzo, 165 Valdobbiadene (TV)
Via Capovilla, 17, 31050 Combai TV
Phone: 0438 960064
The Wineries We Visited
We had a tasting here our first day, and it is a small winery that produces just about 200,000 bottles total a year. The original cellar originated in 1670, and they do still store a few of their wooden barrels there for their red wines. We did not get into the Prosecco cellar as they were still cleaning up after their harvest. The tasting took place in a lovely restored room in the original old farmhouse. If you see the product Birra Follina around, they produce that in their own brewery as well, which is the region’s only brewery.for
GREGOLETTO ESTATE AND WINERY
Via San Martino, 81/83
31050 Premaor di Miane (TV)
Tel +39 0438 970463
Leaving behind the heart of Valdobbiadene, La Tordera can be reached in about a 15-minute drive. Even though the winery is located a short distance away from the Cartizze hill, the family does have farmland on the hill and also produces a Cartizze wine. They produce around 1 million bottles per year and does export some of their products to countries like the United States. Our tour here was one of the most complete ones that we experienced this trip. A young man who was very well informed gave us the tour with one other couple, and it was followed by an informative tasting by another of his colleagues. Although their Prosecco wines were excellent, it was their Gabry, a rosé Prosecco, that I loved.
LA TORDERA DI VETTORETTI PIETRO
Via Alnè Bosco 23, 31020 Vidor (TV)
Phone: +39 0423 985362
After lunch at Casa Carldart, we headed to Canevel cantina for another informative and excellent tour and tasting.
Canevel is located on a flattened hilltop surrounded by rows of Glera grapes, the variety used for making Prosecco. The scenery from this cantina, which sits o top of a hill, is spectacular with views in every direction. Founded in 1979, the name “Canevel” means a small cellar in the local dialect, where the best wines are kept, along with other secrets and traditions. What I especially liked about this tasting was they gave you four separate glasses, not just one, so after each pour, you could go back and compare each wine with the other wines you previously tasted. Most wineries give you one glass that you either have to finish or pour out before a new wine is poured.
Via Rocat e Ferrari 17, 31049
Valdobbiadene (Treviso) ITALIA
Phone: 0423 975940
It turns out that this winery sits across the street from Osteria Senza Oste and has some of the best views of the Cartizze area. Their tasting area is a large room with glass walls overlooking the spectacular views. Although we were not given a tour of the facilities, we spent an hour tasting the wines and getting a very informative education on what makes Col Vetoraz wines so unique. It is still family-owned by the Miotto family who arrived in this area in 1838 and started growing vines. The vineyards are still run in partnership with a descendant of the family, although he has taken on two partners to help develop the best wines possible.
Col Vetoraz Spumanti Srl
Strada delle Treziese, 1 – 31049 S. Stefano di Valdobbiadene (TV)
Phone: 0423 975291
After lunch at the pizzeria in Follina, we headed to our last of our five scheduled wineries Nani Rizzi.
By the time we arrived at our fifth and final winery, to be honest, my husband and I were a little tired about hearing any more about how Prosecco wines were made. Although we had a tour and tasting scheduled, the young woman who greeted us did not realize we had a scheduled appointment and just gave us three wines to taste. Although she briefly explained each wine to us, she seemed too busy talking to her colleague to give us much attention, and we didn’t mind. We were happy to taste our three wines and be on our way. The cantina looked quite new and had a lovely indoor and outdoor tasting area that overlooked the town. It would be a beautiful place to taste Prosecco wines on a warm day!
Nani Rizzi Az. Agr. di Spagnol Denis
Via Stanghe, 22
31040 Guia di Valdobbiadene (TV)
Phone: +39 0423 900645
Hotel Abazia Relais & Chateaux
Above Photos Are Views From The Prosecco Road
Spiedo @ Osteria Contadino in Combai
Deborah Mele 2019