Italian Wine Regions: Veneto


VENETO:  You know this area already for its beloved “floating” city Venice and Verona, where Romeo & Juliet became star-crossed lovers.  Historically speaking this has been an area of major importance in terms of trade and connecting European and Asian trade routes.  This led to a great deal of wealth and power  in this region, which in turn allowed for growth, major building projects (the canal and infrastructure of the lagoon areas was a costly project even in the past), and great prosperity in artisanal products like glass, lace, ceramics, and of course wine.

It’s believed that wine-making has been practiced in the Veneto area since the Italian Peninsula’s Bronze Age (1800–1200 BC), long before it was Veneto or even Italy for that matter.  The Romans arrived in the 2nd century BC and increases in wine production immediately followed.  Nowadays the Veneto region is a prestigious wine-producing region, with more than 25% of production falling into the high quality categories of DOC and DOCG, and over 20 designated DOC wine zones.  You may already know some of its most celebrated wine rock stars like Amarone della Valpolicella, Bardolino, Soave, and Prosecco.  Geographically speaking it might be smaller than other regions like Piedmont and Tuscany, but it actually produces more wine regardless:  8,500,000 hectoliters of wine annually in fact!  The very first Italian school for Oenology was founded in this region in the late 19th century.

Geography:  The Northwest area of Veneto is at the foothills of the Alps, featuring Lake Garda and the Adige river, and has a cooler Alpine-influenced climate.  This area makes mostly crisp and refreshing whites as well as some light reds.  Other warmer areas like the Adriatic coastal plains and river valleys are mainly where reds such as Valpolicella, Amarone, and Bardolino are made.

Main Provinces and their Wine Regions:

  • Vicenza: Gambellara, Colli Berici, Breganze
  • Padova: Colli Euganei, Bagnoli
  • Treviso: Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, Piave, Montello, Colli Asolani
  • Verona: Valpolicella, Soave, Bardolino, Lugana
  • Venezia: Lison Pramaggiore


 Key Regional Grape Friends:

  • Chardonnay (White), versatile native French variety
  • Garganega (White), major grape in Soave wines and used in other blends too
  • Glera (White), formally known as “Prosecco”
  • Malvasia (White)
  • Moscato Bianco (White), aka Muscat Blanc à Petit Grain, a French variety
  • Müller Thurgau (White), a German grape variety
  • Pinot Bianco (White), aka Pinot Blanc or Weissburgunder
  • Pinot Grigio (White), aka Pinot Gris
  • Riesling/Riesling Italico/Riesling Renano (White), grape(s) of German origin
  • Sauvignon (White), a native French variety  aka Sauvignon Blanc but often labeled as “Sauvignon” in Italy
  • Traminer (White), aka Traminer Aromatico and Gewürztraminer
  • Trebbiano (White)
  • Trebbiano di Soave (White), aka Verdicchio
  • Vespaiola (White), used for sweet wines
  • Corvina (Black), used in Valpolicella DOC
  • Molinara (Black), used in Valpolicella DOC
  • Cabernet Sauvignon (Black), French variety
  • Cabernet Franc (Black), yet another native French grape
  • Negrara (Black)
  • Oseleta (Black)
  • Petite Verdot (Black), French variety
  • Pinot Nero (Black), aka Pinot Noir, a French grape that does well in some areas of Italy
  • Raboso (Black)
  • Refosco (Black)
  • Rondinella (Black), used in Valpolicella DOC
  • Rossignola (Black)
  • Tocai Rosso (Black)

The Better Known Wines:

  • Soave- $-$$ (inexpensive to mid-priced) This  DOC white wine is one of the most widely exported and better known Italian wines.  Traditionally it was a blend of Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, and Pinot Bianco but currently blends must be at least 70% Garganega, have a max of 30% Chardonnay or Trebbiano di Soave (=Verdicchio) and can have up to 5% of some other local varieties. In general Soave wines are light, crisp, citrusy and inexpensive whites.  Soave Classico on a label indicates a wine made from the original, classic if you will, area of production.  Soave Superiore can also be found, meaning these wines met stricter harvest rules (and should in theory be higher quality as a result).  “Riserva” on a bottle, as usual, indicates extended ageing of a wine prior to release.  There is also a less common sweet version,  Soave Recioto DOC.
  • Valpolicella DOC & Amarone della Valpolicella- $-$$$ (low to high priced) along with Soave and Chianti, Valpolicella is one of the best known (and exported) wines of Italy.  The typical Valpolicella wine is mid-bodied, fruity, and sometimes compared to France’s Beaujolais wines.  The wine is made of a blend of grapes: Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara.   Valpolicella’s reputation, much like Chianti and Soave, suffered quite a bit in the later part of the 20th century due to over-production.  The Valpolicella Classico designation is partly in response to this, and like Soave mentioned above indicates the older and better production zones.  The villages around the Classic area are Fumane, Marano and Negrar.
    Amarone della Valpolicella is a wine very different from the lighter, easier Valpolicella/Valpolicella Classico DOC.  Amarones are big, bold, prestigious reds made from passito (=dried) Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes.  The result is highly complex and structured reds that can age for decades.  There is a sweet version called Recioto della Valpolicella as well, and in fact the dry version Amarone can be considered a sort of happy accident that happened during the process of making Reciotos!
  • Prosecco DOC/di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOC/DOCG- $$ (mid-priced)  Made primarily  from the Glera grape (formally known as “Prosecco” but changed to avoid confusion between the production region and the grape), this is Italy’s most popular bubbly white wine.  The best area of production is said to be Conegliano-Valdobbiadene.  It can vary in style but typically a Prosecco is dry and sparkling, light and fruity.  Unlike Franciacorta or France’s Champagne, it is made with the Tank Method, meaning the second bubble-fying fermentation doesn’t take place in the bottle.  This less expensive method together with the fact that most Proseccos undergo little to no ageing prior to market release make it a less expensive alternative to pricier Traditional Method  or Bottle-fermented bubbly wines.
  • Bardolino DOC/Classico- $-$$ (low to mid price)  Bardolino DOC are among the lightest red wines in this region.  It’s made in the cooler area near Lake Garda and like Valpolicella is made up mostly by Corvina and Rondinella grapes with a smaller percentage of Molinara permitted.  Bardolinos tend to be delicate with notes of cherry or sour cherry. Bardolino Classico on the label tells us that a wine was produced in the traditional and oldest parts of the region, indicating higher quality and Bardolino Superiore Classico tells us the wine is a bigger more robust version also grown and made in the “classic” area of production.  A Chiaretto version also exists, which is a sort of Rose version of a Bardolino wine.


DOCG Wines of Veneto to Date:

  • Amarone della Valpolicella
  • Bagnoli Friularo
  • Bardolino Superiore
  • Colli Asolani – Prosecco
  • Colli di Conegliano
  • Colli Euganei Fior d’Arancio
  • Colli Euganei
  • Conegliano Valdobbiadene – Prosecco
  • Lison
  • Montello Rosso
  • Piave Malanotte
  • Recioto della Valpolicella
  • Recioto di Gambellara
  • Recioto di Soave
  • Soave Superiore

DOC Wines of Veneto to Date:

  • Arcole
  • Bagnoli di Sopra
  • Bardolino
  • Bianco di Custoza
  • Breganze
  • Colli Berici
  • Colli Euganei
  • Corti Benedettine del Padovano
  • Gambellara
  • Garda
  • Lessini Durello
  • Lison-Pramaggiore
  • Lugana
  • Merlara
  • Montello – Colli Asolani
  • Monte Lessini
  • Piave/Vini del Piave
  • Prosecco
  • Riviera del Brenta
  • San Martino della Battaglia
  • Soave
  • Valdadige Terradeiforti
  • Valpolicella/Valpolicella Ripasso
  • Venezia
  • Vicenza
  • Vigneti della Serenissima

Aubrie Talarico

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18 Responses to Italian Wine Regions: Veneto

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  17. Barry Meguez says:

    Aubrie, your two list of wine say DOCG and DOC of piedmont.

  18. Thanks Barry! Copy and Paste mishap from my Piedmont Page 🙂

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