Knock Knock...It's Prosecco O'Clock
What's a girl to do when she has an open day on her Venice itinerary? Make her way to the Prosecco Road, of course! After all, I may not speak Italian, but rest assured I am fluent in Prosecco.
I've put together a few tips and tricks that will come in handy when planning your adventure.
To drive or not to drive?
That is the question that most will ponder. For those of you who are courageous and expert navigators, you may consider renting a car and tasting your way down the Prosecco road. Beware, the roads are narrow and sinuous with many turns hugging the edge of the mountain.
For those of you who may be directionally challenged, want to enjoy the countryside and sip copious amounts of Prosecco (um, yes please), I would recommend hiring a driver. And you're in luck because I have just the person for you!
After doing a bit of scouting for Prosecco tours, there wasn't one that spoke to me. On the verge of throwing in the towel, I came across a few blogs posts who recommended a driver by the name of Oriana. Even though I was a bit skeptical, I reached out via email. I mean it's completely normal to email strangers you find on a blog in another country, right? Best decision ever! Not only was she incredibly responsive to my emails, but the date that I requested happened to be open. Coincidence? I think not.
After exchanging several emails, we nailed down our times and vineyards. Oriana had some great recommendations and is quite knowledgeable about the area. Feel free to pick her brain for information.
Venice is just a 55-minute train ride away from the Prosecco Region. There is a train that departs approximately 9:15 AM in the direction of Udine that makes a stop in the Susegana. Oriana will pick you up here and you will depart for the Prosecco hills.
Contact Oriana Balliana
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tariff: 175€ which includes driving for 4-5 hours; Lunch and Tasting Fees are not included.
*Rates are subject to change*
Before we start sipping the bubbles, I find it helpful to understand a little bit about the region. Italy's famous Prosecco come from a variety of vineyards located just an hour north of Venice.
There are two primary regions that produce Prosecco: Prosecco DOC and Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
Prosecco DOC spans nine provinces and 20,000 hectares. While Prosecco Superiore DOCG is limited to the Treviso province which includes approximately 6500 hectares. One might immediately notice that the biggest difference between the DOC and DOCG is the size, and that would be accurate, but these areas also have contrasting topographical features. Prosecco DOC is comprised of flatter, low-lying plains whereas the Prosecco DOCG are exclusively hillside vineyards which means caring for the vines are much more time-consuming. Workers who find themselves in a DOCG vineyard are responsible for climbing the treacherous hills and pruning the vines and picking the grapes by hand. After seeing those hills, my appreciation for the DOCG grew exponentially.
Now, for the bubbly details!
Having visited Napa on MANY occasions and deeming myself a professional wine connoisseur, I expected the tasting format to be quite similar to what I had encountered in the past. Wrong! Expect the unexpected! Rather than a fixed tasting menu, it was a bit more fluid. As I was greeted at the Adami winery, I was asked how many Proseccos I wanted to taste and then I got to choose which ones. Nothing was off limit! Guests have the option of choosing a tasting of three or six Proseccos, but I may have found a way to squeeze all of them in. :)
Via Rovede, 27-31020
Colbertaldo di Vidor, Treviso
Our first stop on the Prosecco road was at Adami. While I won't give you a full dissertation on each Proseccos I tasted, I will share with you my favorite. Ironically enough, the one I fell in love with was the bottle that I initially omitted from my tasting line-up. Introducing Sul Lievito which is one of the more traditional bottles produced by Adami. Sul Lievito is made from grapes exclusively grown in the Valdobbiadene DOCG region and undergoes spontaneous bottle fermentation in the spring. As soon as it's poured, you will notice the presence of yeast as it's quite fragrant. What does one pair with a yeast forward bottle of Prosecco? Pizza. Rest assured a bottle made its way back to Nashville.
Col Vetoraz Spumanti
Str. delle Treziese, 1, 31049 Valdobbiadene TV, Italy
My next stop on this tasting adventure was at Col Vetoraz Spumanti which is located at the top of the Cartizze, approximately 400 meters above sea level. The view was absolutely breathtaking. After I picked my jaw up off the ground and snapped what felt like a few hundred pictures, I made my way inside. Col Vetoraz offered eight different varieties of Prosecco to taste and surprise surprise, I wanted to try them all. I asked the gentleman overseeing my tasting to choose his favorite six and I would taste those. After all, who knows it better?
Even though Adami is not far from Col Vetoraz, I found the flavors to be quite distinctive and unlike anything I'd ever had. I found two bottles to my liking: Col Vetoraz Extra Dry and Col Vetoraz Cartizze Superiore. Let's face it, I enjoyed them all, but I only had so much space left in the luggage, so I had to make a tough decision. The Col Vetoraz Extra Dry is a bottle that you can drink any time any place and it pairs well with just about anything. The Col Vetoraz Cartizze Superiore has a sweeter start and ends with a light, clean finish. The delicate flavor profile is due in part to the way the grapes are positioned on the hillside as there is much less humidity there.
One stop that I was insistent on was a visit to the famous Prosecco vending machine. Lucky for me, it was extremely close to Col Vetoraz. When Oriana picked us up that morning she immediately looked at my feet, of course, I was wearing shoes with a small heel. She said "you can't wear those to the vending machine. Do you realize what a hike it is?" To which I replied, "heels have never stopped me, and I won't let them now."
After a few flights of relatively steep stairs and a bit of a winding pathy, I made it. Heels and dress intact! I may have been a bit out of breath, but after twelve Prosecco tastings, anyone would be. Waiting patiently in line, I marveled at the fact that a) this was indeed a real thing and b) I would get to experience it. It's the little things after all, am I right?
Not only did the machine have an assortment of different Proseccos but there were also several salami and cheese options available. Clearly, this is the definition of winning! Below is the play by play of my experience... silly, I know.. but I was thrilled!
Having no idea about the different varieties that were in front of me, I opted for the one that looked the most intriguing. After I got back to the car and showed Oriana, she just laughed. I apparently got a "no-name" Prosecco which they may or may not make in prison... Prison Prosecco for everyone!
So there you have it, friends, my advice for planning an adventure in the Prosecco region. I had a phenomenal time. If I were to change anything, I would spend a bit more time and add a third winery, otherwise, it was perfect!
Until next time!