The wines of Lake Garda
Lake Garda, the largest and most popular lake in northern Italy, is a major producer of Italian wines. Totalling over 130,000 hectares, the distinct wine regions of Lombardy, Trentino and Veneto produce some delicious vinos, from the pale, pink sparkling Chiaretto to the many reds of the Valpolicella variety.
LAKE GARDA WINE MAP
WHAT TYPES OF WINE CAN I FIND ON LAKE GARDA?
- Lugana – the first Lombard wine to be assigned DOC status in Italy. The white grapes are grown in a special clay soil produced during the last ice age when glaciation formed the lake.
- Groppello – a delicate and rare Italian red that grows in the hills of Valtenesi, and embodies a spicy yet fruity flavour.
- Marzemino – this deep ruby-red wine is one of the oldest Italian wines, arriving to Trentino from the Black Sea during the rule of the Republic of Venice.
- Gewurztraminer – a popular off-dry white wine with aromas of roses, passion fruit and flora.
- Bardolino – this light red wine was one of the first Veneto wines to obtain the DOC status in 1968.
- Custoza – a fresh, aromatic and highly drinkable wine with a straw-yellow colour that’s grown on the Morainic hills surrounding the lake.
CAN I GO WINE TASTING ON LAKE GARDA?
Yes, there are lots of vineyards dotted around the lake, including Tre Colline in the morainic hills surrounding Bardolino. This winery produces the classico, superiore and chiaretto versions of the renowned Bardolino wine. Here, you can tour the winery before sitting down to a tasting, accompanied by nibbles.
Another option is the Cantina Ferrari, situated north of Riva and Torbole. This environmentally friendly vineyard produces the distinguished Trento DOC. On a tour you’ll learn about the estate’s history and the wine-making process, as well as getting to try some of the cellar’s produce.
Lastly, if you’re on the south of the lake, try out Cantina Ricchi, just a few miles from Sirmione. This family-run vineyard extending over 38 acres has produced wines like Classico Stefanoni and Grappe for generations. Like the others, you’ll get to taste some of the delicious grape juice here too. And the best part? All these tours can be booked as excursions with TUI.
ARE THERE ANY WINE FESTIVALS ON THE LAKE?
Yes, there are three recognised wine festivals held during the summer months. The first, in June, is the Chiaretto Wine Festival which celebrates the region’s sparkling rosé with wine tastings, fireworks and parades. Fast forward to September and over in Lombardy you can attend the Lugana Grape Festival in Sirmione, jam-packed with music performances and foodie stands. The Festival of Grapes and Bardolino Wine is the last festival of the season, usually held in late September. Paying homage to the local wine, the animated lakeside streets are full of visitors and locals enjoying the food stalls, shows and local crafts.
WHERE CAN I FIND THE BEST BUBBLY ON LAKE GARDA?
While prosecco is regularly hailed the best Italian bubbly, the sparkling wines on Lake Garda do give it a run for its money. One of the most famous (and loved) is Trento DOC, a prized spumante produced in the varied micro-climate of Trentino. If you prefer sweeter wines, a good choice is the highly acclaimed Chiaretto rosé, made in Bardolino since 1896. This sparkling wine has a range of fragrances, from flowers and citrus fruits to wild berries and cinnamon.
FUN FACT: Frizzante and spumante are both words that describe the strength of the bubbles in a sparkling wine. The former means gently sparkling, while the latter describes a wine with more effervescence. Prosecco is the most famous frizzante, while Asti is the best-known Italian spumante.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUPERIORE AND CLASSICO WINES?
Classico describes wines that are produced in the oldest vineyards in the region. Superiore, however, is a classification of Italian wine that’s overseen by the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC). Wines with this certification tend to have at least 0.5 times more alcohol than unclassified wines, and are made using a strict amount of sugar and with a certain type of grape.
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