Five Great Wine-Themed Drives: Dolomites, Italy

Some of Italy's best wines come from the valleys and hills in the Dolomites.

© Shutterstock


Some of Italy's best wines come from the valleys and hills in the Dolomites.

© Shutterstock

Dolomites, Italy

The dramatic peaks of the Dolomites are captivating in winter, but come back in summer without your skis for a scenic vinous adventure. Right in the heart of Europe, this is a route that incorporates three regions – Veneto, Alto-Adige or Südtirol and Trentino – each with their own distinctive wines and charmingly impenetrable local dialects. There are so many routes to choose, but how about starting not in the mountains but in the perpetually captivating city of Venice.

After getting your fix of Tintoretto, Vivaldi and Cicchetti, swap the vaporetto for a motor vehicle and head for the hills. First stop is the rolling landscape of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, home to the top DOCG Prosecco producers. Visit Ruggeri to remind yourself of the delightfully floral freshness that characterises the best examples of this sparkling style.

Head on north to the fashionable resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo with its suitably stylish array of restaurants. For a less flashy, more wine-centric dining experience dive into the Enoteca Cortina and explore its extensive selection of bottles, both from the local region and well beyond.

Take in the panoramic vistas that reward all those twisting alpine hairpin bends until you reach Bolzano, heart of the Alto Adige region. This is the place to immerse yourself in proper Pinot Grigio and mountain fresh Pinot Bianco, as well as local red specialities such as Lagrein and Teroldego. Cantine Tramin, J Hofstätter, Elena Walch and Foradori are just some of the top names for your itinerary.

Follow the road south into Trentino and the traditional method sparkling wines of Trentodoc. Ferrari is one of the most dynamic, high quality stars putting this lesser known appellation on the international wine map.

When was the last time you had some proper Valpolicella? Not that thin, acidic staple of your local Italian restaurant but the lively, sour cherry, mouth-watering style that typifies the finest examples. Head for the vineyards around Verona at the base of Lake Garda to reacquaint yourself with this style, not forgetting its richer Ripasso, Amarone and Recioto siblings. Allegrini, Masi and Tenuta Sant’Antonio are all producers who’ll make sure your trip ends on a high to match all those dizzy mountain passes.