The Italian Lakes, wine and wineries

Discover the Italian Lakes region and its wines with Rebecca Winke

Add This

Rebecca Winke

Rebecca  Winke 
HomeAway travel expert on Umbria 

Italian lakes, wine and wineries by Rebecca WinkeWhen thinking of Italian wine, it is most often the central and southern regions of Italy that come to mind. The crowd-pleasing super-Tuscans, the bold Sicilian Nero d’Avola, and the mouth-tingling tannic Sagrantino from Umbria all seem to dominate the collective wine consciousness (and worldwide menus), encapsulating in their deep red hues the Italy of long, languishing afternoon meals warmed by the Mediterranean sun and serenaded by sweet sounds of mandolins.

The reality is that the lion’s share of Italy’s excellent wines hail from the craggily mountainous northern regions of the country, primarily the belt that stretches across Piedmont, Lombardy, and Veneto. The fertile shores of this area’s glacial lakes—including Maggiore, Como, Iseo, Garda, and Orta—produce some of Italy’s most prestigious wines, and a visit to the Italian “Lake District” is an occasion to combine gorgeous landscapes (though more Alpine than Mediterranean) with equally breathtaking wines. 

These northern wines tend to be lighter than their southern cousins, but no less complex; Nebbiolo and Amarone di Valpolicella, in fact, are considered two of the most layered wines in all of Italy. A number of distinct microclimates, dictated by steep mountains slopes ringing secluded valleys and glacial basins, produce an incredible range and diversity between wines hailing from this relatively small geographical area, so there is a wine to suit almost every taste.  


Rebecca's verdict on wineries near the Italian Lakes

Though any restaurant or trattoria in the Italian “Lake District” will feature the excellent local vintages on their menus, surely the best (and most fun) way to sample wines from the shores of Italy’s northern lakes is at the source: one of the beautiful family wineries that dot these terraced hillsides.

Lake Maggior: A David in the Goliath wine world, Cascina Piano was one of the first wineries to redevelop and market the historical local Ronchi Varesini wines, long produced along the shores of Lake Maggiore but almost completely forgotten in the 20th century. In 2003, this family began their battle to revive these wines, and two years later gained Igt recognition.

Lake Orta: The Colline Novaresi wine country is thick with cantine—more than 90 at last count—so this is an interesting area to make a wine day trip rather than a single visit. That said, if you have time for just one stop, try the Castello Conti. Run by three sisters (daughter of the founder, who began producing wine in the 1960s), this winery has a hip feel, with an art exhibition space and the Rosso delle Donne label, celebrating the all-women ownership.

Lake Como: In the Alpine lodge-like Angelinetta winery—with a wide view over the town of Domaso, the placid lake, and the craggy mountain peaks on the opposite shore—visitors can sample both this cantina’s Terre Lariane Igt wines and their excellent honey and grappa.

Lake Garda: The shores and area surrounding Lake Garda is thick with wineries producing an incredible array of different wines. To try some of Italy’s most prestigious, head to Corte Adami, where you can sample both the Soave and Amarone di Valpolicella of this award-winning vintner. 

Lake Iseo: For something a bit different, the gorgeous Bellavista winery turns out sparkling Franciacorta. On a hilltop with views over the surrounding rolling vineyards, this winery is the perfect spot to sip a glass of bubbly. If you like industrial archaeology, the Contadi Castaldi cellar is housed in the renovated former brickyard, a perfect place for ageing Franciacorta. 



Top places to visit for wonderful wines and wineries


Lake Maggiore Lake Maggiore

Along the shores of majestic Lake Maggiore, picturesque terraced hillside vineyards produce Angera wines (known as the Ronchi Varesini), which—after a decline over the past century—are returning to the prestige and popularity they have enjoyed since the 1500s. Further afield, the Novara hills to the south (also near the tiny neighboring Lake Orta) are home to some of Lombardy’s most popular red DOC wines, including Nebbiolo, Ghemme, and Vespolina. The Alpine Valdossola to the north instead turns out Prünent, Neuv Bruschett, and Cà d’ Matè from its dramatic terraced mountain slopes.

View holiday rentals in Lago Maggiore



Lake Orta Lake Orta

Postcard-perfect Lake Orta, with its village-island San Giulio, is often considered the most romantic of the Italian Lakes. To the south, the Novara hills are home to some of Lombardy’s most popular red DOC wines, including Nebbiolo, Ghemme, and Vespolina. Put the two together, and you are almost guaranteed a heady weekend of intimate toasts.

View holiday rentals in Lake Orta



Lake Como   Lake Como

Like Lake Maggiore, Como has her own Cinderella story: the Domaso wines. These local reds and whites were revived in the late 1990s with the replanting of the heirloom Verdes grape and the recultivation of the steep terraces surrounding the lakeside town of Domaso, which had produced wine since Roman times. To the north of Lake Como, the Valtellina valley has also been in the wine business since the Romans ruled Italy, and the local Nebbiolo grape is used to produce the excellent Sforzato and Superiore DOCG wines.

View holiday rentals in Lake Como



Lake Garda       Lake Garda

Both the largest and the most productive of lakes, wine-wise, is Lake Garda. Here the microclimate is especially conducive to excellent local varietals, including the Nosiola, Schiava, and Lagrein grapes which turn out light reds and rosès. The nearby Valtenesi is home to a number of Garda Classicos—including Chiaretto, Rosso, Groppollo, and Bianco—and the Colline Moreniche hills produce the DOC Luganas and San Martino della Battaglia. On the Veneto side of Garda to the east, wine enthusiasts should search out Amarone di Valpolicella, a rich red made from passito (dried) grapes and Soave, a dry white which can be both still or sparkling.

View holiday rentals in Lake Garda



Lake Iseo Lake Iseo

Speaking of sparkling, just to the south of tiny Lake Iseo the Franciacorta wine country produces Lombardy’s best bubbly, a DOCG wine since 1995. This area produces still whites and reds, but by far its most popular wine is the sparkling white followed by its sparkling rosè. Similar to Champagne in technique and taste, these wines are excellent as an aperitivo or at the end of a sumptuous Italian meal.

View holiday rentals in Lake Iseo



Lake Como Holiday Homes

design holiday house in picturesque village on lake Como

On the ground floor there's a spacious sitting area with cosy fireplace and flatscreen so that you can sit, relax, watch television and enjoy wifi! There's also a cheerful dining area with 6 chairs, spare chairs and baby-chair are available in the...

Villa SAL ADR - On the western side of lake Maggiore in the park of Lagoni de Mercurago.

Villa SAL ADR is situated on the western side of Lake Maggiore, Italy, in the beautiful park of "Lagoni de Mercurago". From many points on the estate, especially from the garden, it is possible to enjoy magnificent views of the lake and the mediev...

Villa BRV MAR - Experience unparalleled views of Lake Como from this recently restored villa.

Villa BRV MAR is one of two spectacular villas on the Estate Il Cigno on the shore of Lake Como. Along with her sister property Villa BRV SER, both properties offer stunning views of the lake and have recently been luxuriously restored and refur...

Appartamento Nolene B is a cozy apartment. You will be roughly 1.3 km from Bellagio, where you will find restaurants, shops, the beach, the lake and the tourist port.

Appartamento Nolene B is a cozy apartment. It sleeps three people. It is appoximately 30 square meters (320 square feet). It features a spacious private terrace, a shared garden, winter heating and WI-FI Internet access. You will be roughly 1.3 ...

Appartamento Nolene A is a cozy apartment. You will be roughly 1.3 km from Bellagio, where you will find restaurants, shops, the beach, the lake and the tourist port.

Appartamento Nolene A is a cozy apartment. It sleeps three people. It is appoximately 50 square meters (540 square feet). It features a spacious private terrace, a shared garden, air conditioning (please read description below to check in which r...
italyFrance Valle d'Aosta Piedmont Lombardia Lombardy Emilia Romagna Switzerland Trentino Alto Adige Austria Veneto-Venice Friuli Venezia Giulia Slovenia Slovenia Croatia Tuscany Marche Umbria Lazio Sardinia Abruzzo Molise Puglia Campania Basilicata Calabria Sicily Europe Stati Uniti World


Search for holiday rentals
Search for holiday ideas


Sign up to our newsletter

Our latest updates and special offers, direct to your inbox

Advertise with HomeAway

Related Articles


Other Categories

Popular Articles