Veneto is located in the northeast of Italy between the Garda Lake and the Adriatic sea. The Po, Italy’s longest river, forms it southern border with Emilia Romagna while the Alps constitute its northern limit. To the east the region stretches as far as Friuli Venezia Giulia.
The contours of the land and the soils are extremely varied, ranging in altitude and composition from the alluvial plains of the Adige and Piave rivers to the steep, rocky mountains of the Valdobbiadene area. The climate varies considerably, too, depending on the proximity to either the Alpine mountain range or the Mediterranean sea, although these extremes are tempered by the influence of the rivers and the Garda Lake which create a micro-climate much conducive to quality viticulture.
As a result, Veneto is one of the two biggest wine-producing regions in Italy. Its 50,000 hectares of vineyard put out 15 million quintals of wine grapes a year and around 9 million hectolitres of wine, of which 1.8 million enrolled under DOC status. Soave for instance, the most popular of Italian dry whites, ranks third after Chianti and Asti in volume among Doc-classified Italian wines (well over 50 milion liters a year).
Valpolicella, made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes, has been fourth in volume among DOCs with more than 30 million liters. The three most famous DOC zones are Valpolicella, Soave and Valdobbiadene/Prosecco, but there are several others worthy of note such as the Colli Euganei, Colli Berici, Piave, Breganze, Gambellara and the eastern bank of the Garda Lake.
Valpolicella is noted as a hearty red to drink relatively young, though grapes from its vineyards in the hills north of Verona can also be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella. Amarone, amply structured and long on the palate, ranks with Italy’s most authoritative red wines with a list of admirers growing around the world.
It is unquestionably one of the great red wines for aging. Bardolino from the same basic grapes as Valpolicella, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the light red or dark pink Chiaretto version. Bardolino has also gained in popularity as a Vino Novello, another category in which Veneto leads production in Italy. Bardolino, from the shores of Lake Garda, also ranks high in terms of volume with about 20 million liters a year.
Treviso’s province stretches on the hills north of Vicenza and Padua: between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene the popular Prosecco sparkler finds its homeland, a light-bodied off-dry bubbly white made from the eponymous grape. A more complex, structured version is known as Superiore di Cartizze.
Veneto shares 5 DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore with Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Valdadige with Trentino-Alto Adige.