When I visited North lake Garda for the first time I immediately fell in love with the magnificence of the place. The lake drammatically ends with mountains rising on either side and if you keep going you will see more mountains, green rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards.
We visited the area by car and we stopped several times to visit producers and farmers who greeted us with copious amounts of wine and food.. Yep I cannot even recall how many glasses of wine and cubes of cheese I had during my staying there!
The Marocche in the area of Dro (a village famous for its plums) is protected as a biotope and there is a path where you can admire the geomorphologic and natural beauty of this special sanctuary. This peculiar lunar dry landscape is characterized by huge rocks and stones which were formed by landslides during the Quarternary glaciations.
In the Marocche there is a point where recently footprints of two dinosaurs left behind 190 million years ago have been found, a herbivore and a carnivore one over 6 meters long.
I spotted many cyclists riding on the main roads in the mountains. North Lake Garda is in fact very popular with people who love all sorts of sport.
We stopped at a small family run farm where they make organic wine.
The row of vines had roses at the beginning of each row. I was there at the perfect time of the year to see them glouriously in full bloom. The view of the vineyard with the mountains in the background looked like the scene of a postcard. I felt good and energized.
The tiny green seeds lovingly protected and supported by the stalks of the vines looked like they were sunbathing, happily enjoying the sunshine. They get ripe, ready to be picked in September after absorbing all the summer’s sunshine and heat. This allows them to become sweet and juicy. Just what you need to make good wine.
September is vendemmia or grape picking time. Suddenly a scene passed my mind: when the whole family gets together in a celebration picking grapes whilst chatting away with the children running around. I remember that happening in my own family when I was a little girl.
Then I was introduced to Clara and Giuseppe, the owners of the vineyard at Gino Pedrotti. Meeting this family of winemakers was very interesting.
They produce organic biodinamic wine but interestingly enough they do not print “organic wine” on their labels. They feel natural or organic wine is simply their philosophy of life and this is the way wine should always be produced.
Clara explained that when they started organic farming it took a while to get the soil used to produce fruit and vegetables without pesticides. As I mentioned before organic farming requires hard work and above all lots passion.
In 2002 they celebrated 100 years of their business which was started by their grandparents who she said enjoyed the hard work in the fields, for them it was a source of energy and they were very proud of their wine just like their grandchildren are today.
They produce several types of wines like Merlot, Cabernet Frank, Rebo, Chardonnay and Nosiola, the most typical grape of this area. A fresh dry white wine with hints of fresh hazelnut.
But their precious gem, their top wine is Vino Santo a sweet dessert wine which is typical only of Trentino. This is not to be confused with Vin Santo from Tuscany.
This wine, from the Nosiola grape, is produced as per family tradition at Easter time during the Holy Week (Santo means holy in Italian).
The grapes are placed on racks to slowly dry until the Holy Week then they are pressed and left to ferment. Fermentation is a very slow process and it naturally stops before all the sugar is transformed into alcohol. At this point starts a long ageing process that also leads to a natural clarification.
Vino santo has a yellow-bronze colour with an intense, complex and elegant flavour with hints of ripe fruit and honey. It is harmoniously sweet, fresh and it leaves you with a persistent pleasant taste in your mouth.
Vino Santo is fermented for 2-3 weeks and it stays for 2 years in a tank and for 5 years in a barrel but sometimes even longer. They say this is a wine “to be forgotten”: a Vino Santo that has been bottled well will last for a long time and its taste can be very gratifying.
For 100 Kg of grapes you get 18 Liters of Vino Santo so it is not very much but hey, in Italy there is a saying: “Il buon vino sta nella botte piccola” The small barrel preserves the best wine.” or as we would say: “Good things come in small packages”.