A Family Made Amarone

The vineyard in the “backyard”

This family run winery is located in the small town Sant’Ambrogio, the most eastern town of Valpolicella Classica, just before the gentle slope that takes you to lake Garda and Bardolino wine producing area.

The estate was bought by the family now running the winery at the beginning of XX Century. A document from Venice historical archive proves that the nice little farm house had a productive vineyard in the “backyard” already in XVII Century.

Even if taken very seriously, wine making was mainly a hobby, grapes were sold to some of the most famous wineries in Valpolicella, and a small quantity of Amarone was made for friends and relatives. Only the fourth generation decided to make wine making a full time job.

Behind the farm house you’ll find the 25 acres of vineyards going up on the slope of of San Giorgio hill. Grape is grown focusing on quality, with a guyot system of around 6000-7000 vines per hectare. The pleasent landscape is completed by an olive grove and by a natural wood left on the small hill. Trees help preventing the area from over-heating in Summer keeping a balanced humidity level in the soil.

Only Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Molinara, the three traditional grape varietals are grown. The strict DOCG rules (top quality label regulating Italian best wines) now allow the use of up to 10% of any grape varietal, but in this winery they decided to stick to tradition and are still using the Molinara that now could be excluded. Many producers decided not to use Molinara because of its very light color. International consumers often expect a thick garnet color from an expensive wine such as the Amarone and could think that the light color of a wine that include Molinara grape could be a sign of low quality and light structure. This of course is not true, and Molinara is an important element in the balance of a Valpolicella wine, adding acidity and aromas to its structure.

This is not an organic winery, nevertheless grape growing methods and wine making techniques are using very little chemical interventions. With a controlled grape production (8.000 kilograms per hectare), a strong reduction of the use of pesticide and other chemicals, the harvest at the right moment, with a careful selection of the best bunches, they can obtain top quality grapes that makes the wine making process easier and the wine pure and excellent.

Drying grapes in wooden boxes

Grapes for the Amarone are dried with a completely natural method, opening drying loft windows and letting the wine in. On humid and foggy days, few big fans are opearted to avoid condensation.

Wine is aged in Slavonian oak casks of 40-50 hl. Aging is a particularly long process lasting at least 5 years. Particularly good vintages are left in barrels even 6 years. Amarone DOCG rules now allow producers to put their wine on the market after only 2 years from the year of harvest. In order to rise the quality many producers are aging Amarone for longer periods, but only few reach 5 years. With a longer aging in big oak barrels the resulting Amarones are softer, more elegant and well balanced and can last longer in the cellar after bottling.

Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Superiore, Amarone and a small quantity of Recioto, Valpolicella dessert wine, are produced. Valpolicella Superiore is made not using the ripasso technique. Selected grapes are dried for one month, squeezed, fermented and the wine is then aged for two and a half years in big oak barrels. The now very popular Ripasso technique was used in the past to increase the quality of a low level wines. Here they prefer to create high quality wine from the beginning with an accurate selection of the grapes. The resulting Valpolicella Superiore is litteraly a “small Amarone” at a very affordable price.

The tour of the winery is presented by the energetic young man who is now in charge of the estate. It includes a walk in the vineyards, a visit to the drying loft (in Autumn and Winter you’ll have the chance to see and smell the boxes full of drying grapes) and in the cellar. After the tour, it will follow a tasting of a selection of the produced wines that takes place in the vaulted old cellar now used as a tasting room.

This family run winery will give you the chance to talk directly and ask questions about vine growing and wine making to the people who are actually taking part in the process, feeling their passion for the terroir, the wine and the tradition.

Suitable both for individual wine tourists and small groups.