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.