Prosecco, in Veneto, is a staple in Italian wine and very well-known in the international wine scene when it comes to bubbles.
We recently traveled to and rode in this wine area in the northeast of Italy, located between Venice and the Dolomites, to understand more about where Prosecco wine is from. Unsurprisingly, this hilly wine region also stunned us with great riding.
Visiting the Veneto wine region of Prosecco and riding there convinced me without a doubt that the best wine regions often afford the best cycling rides.
For some very specific reasons, quality wine is better produced on inclines and not in flat valleys. Here’s why:
- Higher elevation, cooler nights
- Breeze prevents the formation of fungi and mold
- Slopes prevent the stagnation of water
- Less humidity (the ideal ecosystem for insects that could attack the plants)
- Sun exposure: a vineyard on a slope with the right exposure acts as a mirror and captures more sunlight
From a wine production point of view, the downside is that nearly everything in the fields has to be done by hand. So, there are specific reasons that make a hilly landscape winemaking best environment. In Italy, we can classify a wine area by the elevation of the vineyards. The elevation range where top wines are produced is, in my opinion, also a perfect cycling zone.
Video courtesy of Hotel Villa Abbazia, Follina.
We know by intuition that the ideal place for vines is over hills but that’s because leaves enjoy the best sun irradiation with temperatures at the right range to form sugars. And the rides that we crave the most are exactly in such a landscape.
Granted, “terroir” plays a key role. It’s a fact that valley soil is often too heavy on clay and too scarce on sand and marl.
In the north of Italy where Veneto is, the right temperature in the vineyards is 25-28 C (77-82 F) and the range in elevation most favorable is between 200 and 500 mt (656 and 1640 ft), while in the south of the country the lower latitude creates the conditions for vineyards at 600+ mt (1968+ ft). Exceptionally, winemaking is represented in mountain regions (Val d’Aosta, Trentino Alto Adige) above 700 mt up to 1200 mt (2297-3937 ft).
Incidentally, that the very same elevation zones afford perfect riding with rolling secondary roads and usually great scenery in rural areas not threatened by anthropization.
Riding in the Prosecco region between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene reminded me exactly about this link between gifted wine regions and great bicycle touring, two things that I truly enjoy and that I also like to package in our bike tour itineraries.
I want to tell you about the birth of the Prosecco sub-area “Superiore DOCG."
In the 1990's, Prosecco’s market demand prompted the expansion of the production area outside of the traditional hill slopes towards the valley.
That move made Prosecco world-famous and widely available (It is currently the most exported wine from Italy), but made the quality and price of Prosecco vary greatly. Luckily, the producers in the traditional production area on the hills between Valdobbiadene and Conegliano came together and were granted a Superiore DOCG appellation in 2009. That way, consumers know where the wine comes from and its quality disjointed by marketing money and brands. We recently met some passionate small producers (20.000 bottles/year) in the Valdobbiadene production area which we look forward to introducing to you on tour or via the wine club.
That area truly mesmerized me with its views and at the end of the day there was always a glass of Prosecco (or two) to celebrate.
Have you been there? Comment below.