Lake Garda Wine Region
Lake Garda Wine Region in northern Italy includes the areas surrounding this wonderful lake: from Brescia, on the Lombard shores, to Verona on the east, in the Veneto region, and Trentino on the northern shores.
Lake Garda represents a real tidbit in northern Italy: despite the cold winters that characterize this area, the blue waters of the lake absorb the heat from the summer sunny days just to release it in cooler times of the year, making it a Mediterranean paradise all year round.
Take a boat ride on the lake to enjoy its green sceneries, full of lemon trees, olive groves and vineyards, of course. The vines cultivated around Lake Garda are grown on morainic soils, carved by glaciers millions of years ago and now the perfect terroir to make some of the most appreciated wines in Italy:
- Bardolino DOC and Bardolino Superiore DOCG, one of the best wines in Italy – I’d dare say – made in the province of Verona, Veneto, to the east of Lake Garda;
- Lugana DOC, a prestigious white wine of Lake Garda produced in the south shores of Lake Garda, between Brescia and Verona provinces;
- San Martino della Battaglia DOC, another white wine of Lake Garda, produced in the area of Sirmione, Desenzano, Lonato, Pozzolengo and Peschiera del Garda;
- Riva del Garda Classico DOC, produced on the west shores of the Brescia province, from Pozzolengo to Limone del Garda;
- Valdadige Terra dei Forti DOC, stretching along the Adige river, it is produced between Trentino and Veneto;
- Custoza DOC, one of the white wines of Lake Garda produced between Verona, Valeggio sul Mincio and Peschiera del Garda;
- Garda Colli Mantovani DOC, produced between the provinces of Verona, Brescia and Mantua, on the south shores of Lake Garda.
However, this area is not only rich in wines, but also cultural heritage: there are plenty of medieval castles, villas, historical and religious buildings. There are a few cycling routes, suitable even for weekend warriors, where you can relax and enjoy the surrounding beautiful panorama.
Among the typical products you can get to eat around Lake Garda there are pickled dried common bleak (alborella), lake fish such as whitefish (coregone) and missoltini, mutton sausage, Brescia-style skewers, Valtenesi truffle, and PDO products like Grana Padano, Provolone Valpadana and Lake Garda extra virgin olive oil.
1. Lake Garda Wines
1.1 Bardolino DOC and Bardolino Superiore DOCG
Bardolino DOC is one of the best renowned Italian wines internationally recognized for its high quality. It is produced in the province of Verona, in the Veneto region, and it is classified into:
- the prestigious red wine Bardolino Classico DOC
- Bardolino Chiaretto DOC, the rosé sparkling version obtained by naturally fermented wines
- the top quality Bardolino Superiore DOCG
Bardolino Chiaretto DOC is a perfect wine for aperitivo, while Bardolino Superiore DOCG is best paired with aged and medium-aged cheese such as Asiago.
–> Confused between DOC and DOCG wine designations? Find more info here: How to buy wine in Italian supermakets
1.2 Lugana DOC
Lugana DOC is one of the prestigious white wines of Lake Garda. It is produced using Turbiana vines (also called Trebbiano di Soave) along the southest coast of Lake Garda, in the provinces of Brescia and Verona.
Lugana DOC is named after the “Selva Lucana”, a thick swampy forest that covered this area a long time ago. Through the agricultural reforms enforced by the Serenissima Republic of Venice, this marshy land was cleaned up. Now it is clayey and fertile, a great type of soil giving this wine marvelous features.
Five varieties of Lugana DOC white wine are produced:
- Vendemmia Tardiva (Late Harvest)
- Spumante (Sparkling)
Lugana DOC is best paired with fish pasta or risotto, but it’s also a perfect aperitivo wine.
1.3 San Martino della Battaglia DOC
San Martino della Battaglia DOC is another white wine of Lake Garda, produced in the area of Sirmione, Desenzano, Lonato and Pozzolengo, in the province of Brescia, Lombardy, as well as Peschiera del Garda, in Veneto.
The grape variety used for this wine is called Tocai Friulano, and it was originally from Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. It is still used nowadays to produce San Martino della Battaglia DOC.
Two varieties of San Martino della Battaglia DOC are produced in Lake Garda wine region:
- San Martino della Battaglia DOC (white wine)
- San Martino della Battaglia liquoroso DOC (liqueur wine)
San Martino della Battaglia DOC is best paired with dry desserts, blue cheeses but it can also be enjoyed alone, as a meditation wine.
–> Other wine areas around Lake Garda? Check out Franciacorta Wine Route
1.4 Riviera del Garda Classico DOC
Riviera del Garda Classico DOC territory stretches along Lake Garda shores, from Pozzolengo to Limone del Garda. The vicinity of the lake, the plain, the Pre-Alps slopes and the hills all contribute to the mild weather, ideal to grow vines, olive groves, and citruses.
Riviera del Garda Classico DOC includes the area called Valtènesi, where the Riviera del Garda Classico Groppello is produced. Obtained from the Groppello vine, this wine is considered a rare enological excellency as it is grown only in Valtènesi, on hill slopes of Lake Garda.
Riviera del Garda Classico DOC includes the following typologies:
- Bianco (white)
- Rosso (red)
- Rosso Superiore
- Spumante Rosé (rosé sparkling wine)
- Valtenesi Chiaretto DOC and Valtenesi DOC
Riviera del Garda Classico DOC is best paired with savory first courses, all types of meat and medium-aged cheeses.
1.5 Valdadige Terra dei Forti DOC
The name “Terra dei Forti” comes from the presence of a series of medieval castles called “forti” (forts) characterizing this area. Even the Romans wrote about the wines produced in this land: they specifically refer to the “Enantio”, a black grapevine still used nowadays, renowned for its enological properties.
Valdadige Terra dei Forti DOC includes the following typologies:
- Valdadige Terra dei Forti Casetta DOC (also Riserva)
- Valdadige Terra dei Forti Enantio DOC (also Riserva)
- Valdadige Terra dei Forti Pinot grigio DOC (also Superiore)
Valdadige Terra dei Forti DOC is best paired with appetizers of typical Trentino cold cuts, barley soup and meat.
1.6 Bianco di Custoza or Custoza DOC
Custoza DOC is one of the white wines of Lake Garda produced between Verona, Valeggio sul Mincio and Peschiera del Garda. This area is ideal for enhancing white grape characteristics as the surrounding hills absorb the heat during the day, keeping the air fresh at night.
Custoza DOC includes the following typologies:
Custoza DOC is perfectly paired with local dishes such as tortellini from Valeggio, gnocchi from Lessinia, and risi e bisi (risotto with peas), but also lake fish (whitefish, trout, eel, sardella, pike, tench and carp), pasta and risotto topped with fish sauce, boiled and grilled meats, cheese and cold cuts.
1.7 Garda Colli Mantovani DOC
Garda Colli Mantovani DOC spreads over the area south of Lake Garda wine region, from Peschiera del Garda to Montichiari, in the province of Brescia, and Castel Goffredo in the province of Mantua.
The cultivation of vines in the province of Mantua has ancient origins: dating back to the Neolithic, it was the Etruscans who handed down the culture of wine to the Romans, who continued the tradition. Nowadays Garda Colli Mantovani DOC vineyards are the result of a long selection made by man: the most suitable vines for the specificity of this land and climate are still proudly cultivated today.
Garda Colli Mantovani DOC includes the following typologies:
- Pinot grigio
- rosato (rosé)
- rosso (red wine)
Garda Colli Mantovani DOC is a perfect aperitivo wine served with cold meats, but it can also be paired with pasta with ragù, lightly seasoned roasts, and stewed white meats.
2. Lake Garda Wine Festivals
If you’re looking for Lake Garda wine tasting events where to enjoy (and buy) top quality wines, you must know that wine producers from the areas around Bardolino and Lake Garda organize wine festivals all year round.
Not only do they offer Bardolino DOC but also Lugana DOC, Riviera del Garda Classico DOC and many others. Check out the most visited Lake Garda Wine Festivals below.
2.1 Festa dell’Uva e del Vino
Counting over 100,000 visitors every year, Festa dell’Uva e del Vino in Bardolino is an unmissable wine festival taking place in Bardolino, Verona.
Get to taste this excellent wine and admire the beauties of the region in autumn! To top it off, delicious regional cuisine will be served: risotto, pasta, fish..get to taste the best of the traditional cuisine.
2.2 L’Anteprima del Bardolino e del Chiaretto
L’Anteprima del Bardolino e del Chiaretto is a wine event that takes place in Bardolino, Verona, over the first week of May. On this occasion 40 wine producers will offer you the chance to taste the great Bardolino Chiaretto, Chiaretto Spumante e Rosso Bardolino. This event is a rare occasion to get to know how these prestigious wines are made. What are you waiting for? Get more info here.
Vinitaly is a wine and spirits exhibition hosted at Fiera di Verona every year in April. Since 1967 Vinitaly has been supporting wine industry producers, creating business opportunities in Italy and around the world, and connecting wine-makers and sector professionals.
2.4 Sapori d'Autunno
Sapori D’Autunno takes place in November in Carpenedolo, Brescia. It is a tasting circuit of over 40 local wines and a selection of craft beers, all accompanied by delicious local products such as honey, a wide variety of cheese and typical cold cuts.
2.5 Di Gusto in Gusto
From November through January in Riva del Garda, Trentino, the cozy Christmas market Di Gusto in Gusto is hosted. Tastings of wine and local products are offered by local producers. It’s a great event for families, but also a great chance for visiting the surrounding area: check out the beautiful Arco castle, just 15 mins away from Lake Garda.
3. Best Wineries around Lake Garda
3.1 Avanzi Winery and Frantoio
Avanzi Winery and Frantoio in Manerba del Garda is a winery that offers wine tasting tours of Garda Classico DOC and Lugana DOC, but it is also an olive oil mill (frantoio) where you will be shown how PDO Garda olives are turned into extra virgin olive oil.
3.2 Azienda Agricola Ricchi
Azienda Agricola Ricchi set up their wine business back in the 1930s and now offer guided tours of the winery and vineyards to all wine lovers. During the experience you can get to taste Riviera del Garda DOC, Colli Mantovani DOC and even more prestigious excellencies accompanied by traditional Mantuan appetizers.
Hope this article will be useful when planning your trip to Lake Garda! 🙂
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