After picking up our rental car, we drove to Sirmione, on Lake Garda. The town is known for its Medieval 13th-century castle, cobblestoned old town and beautiful lakeviews of the Alps.
We spent a morning sightseeing in Sirmione but were a bit overwhelmed by tourists. But no matter, we had other plans for our time in this region. You may be thinking that Venice would be the obvious choice, but after much debate, we decided we didn’t have enough time to do it justice, and that we would go another time. This was the right call, as it gave us time to explore other parts of the wonderful Veneto region in northeastern Italy, namely its wine!
We actually had set up a couple of “meetings” at the Soave wine tasting a few days earlier, when a couple of winemakers had invited us to their wineries for a tour. So after exploring Sirmione in the morning we hopped in the car and drove to the Veneto wine region, home of Valpolicella and Soave wines. This area is absolutely gorgeous, with rolling hills, windy mountain roads and vineyards.
Our first stop was Bertani, one of the oldest producers in the region and has been making wine since before the unification of Italy. We were honoured to have head winemaker Andrea Lonardi take a break from the harvest to give us a tour of the beautiful estate and winemaking facilities. Afterwards, we were treated to a tasting of their beautiful wines, many of which are made from dried grapes, which concentrates the sugars to enhance the natural sweetness of the wines. This apassimento technique is typical in the Veneto region. The wines were top notch and we are keeping our fingers crossed that we will start seeing it at the LCBO soon. Those of you in Quebec are luckier, with some bottles available at the SAQ. Looks like a trip across the border is in order.
After driving through the beautiful Veneto countryside for another half hour, we made it to our next stop: Zýmé Winery. This new winery was the perfect complement to the centuries-old Bertani. Once again, we toured the building and saw where all the action happened, then were led upstairs for an intensive tasting of 11 wines (!!). It was an excellent exercise in self-control, as we still had to drive home afterwards!
[Stay tuned to Wining with Mel for more details on these Veneto winery visits]
We took the long way home afterwards in order to explore the eastern shore of Lake Garda. And as with most of our amazing travel discoveries, we stumbled upon a great place to watch the sunset while searching for a washroom.
With our bladders relieved, we were then able to wander the quaint streets of the town of Garda, where we had a delicious dinner on the quay.
Where the wind takes us next: Florence!