Nestled in the foothills of the Dolomites an hour’s drive north of Venice, you’ll find the enchanting Prosecco vineyard-embroidered hills. Stretching over 30km across nine different provinces in the north-east of Italy, locals have perfected the process of producing bottles of Prosecco since the 17th century. In 2019, the hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene were recognised as a coveted cultural landscape and became the 8th UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Veneto region. So, in true celebration of National Prosecco Day, we’re going to share with you the fascinating history of Prosecco and where to find the best places to raise a toast to this sparkling white wine in the renowned ‘Pearl Wine’ vineyards.
The Prosecco Hills is one of the world’s best yet largely undiscovered wine regions, producing a number of DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) wines, which are guaranteed by the Italian government to be of the highest quality. Known as “the secret garden of Venice”, the Prosecco Hills are brimming with beautiful local vineyards to discover on foot and by bike.
To find the best spots for a welcomed chilled glass of Prosecco, why not explore this spectacular region on foot with our 7-night guided trip, Walking the Prosecco Hills. On this centre-based trip, you will stay at an elegant 4-star hotel in the quaint village of Pieve di Soligo, in the heart of the Prosecco Hills for the entire trip, so you can relax and unpack. On your first day, you can spend your time getting acquainted with rustic open-air restaurants and visit its 17th-century water mill, Molinetto della Croda or take a short hike to see the striking Roman age fortress, Castel Brando. Next, you will visit the beautifully preserved village of Cison di Valmarino passing by tranquil woodlands to Follina, a village famous for the intricate Cistercian monastery of Santa Maria and monks who established the first textile sector in the region.
From Follina, we head to the vineyard-lined hills of Valdobbiadene, San Pietro di Barbozza and Santo Stefano, where the majority of the Prosecco winemakers are based. With over 100 different wineries in the Prosecco DOCG area alone, there will be plenty of opportunities to wander through the terraced slopes which offer spectacular panoramas of Italian hamlets, old churches and ancient castles perched on the hillsides, nestled between the lush vineyards. On this exhilarating walk, you will also visit one of the top local Prosecco producers and explore their wine cellars that have been kept in the same family for generations. Here, you’ll get the opportunity to sample different varieties of Prosecco, from the fully sparkling (spumante) to the lightly sparkling (frizzante).
Fragrant and refreshingly crisp, Prosecco is primarily produced from the Glera grape grown on the limestone-rich Prosecco hills. You’ll find that fine bottles of Prosecco offer aromas of golden apples and citrus fruits interspersed with acacia flowers. The light-bodied wine is said to have dominant flavours of green apples, pear, white peach, apricot and honeysuckle, making it the perfect aperitif to enjoy on balmy evenings in Northern Italy. Prosecco gets its name from the village of Prosecco in Friuli situated in north-eastern Italy. It is believed that wine produced in the area has been called “Prosecco” or some variation of Prosecco for at least 400 years!
Another gem you can visit in the Prosecco region while on our Walking the Prosecco Hills trip, is the beautiful 16th-century Villa Barbaro in Maser. Its intricate frescos painted by Paolo Veronese and sculptures created by Alessandro Vittoria are bound to impress as you wander through its expansive grounds. Afterwards, take a climb to Monte San Giorgio, where you can follow the original front lines used during the First World War and end the walk in the medieval walled hilltop town of Asolo, also known as “The Pearl Province of Treviso”. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon exploring its ruins and military fortress or find a wine shop with tasting rooms offering wines from all of the local Prosecco Asolo producers, many of which are DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) quality.
If you’d like to discover this beautiful region on two wheels, our Taste of Prosecco Cycling self-guided holiday gives you the opportunity to enjoy wine tastings with famous local producers, visit fairy-tale castles and ride through charming medieval villages along the spectacular Prosecco Route. On this centre-based trip, you will stay at the charming 4-star Hotel dei Chiostri that was built on the site of the Abbey of Santa Maria, in the heart of Follina. Here, you get the chance to soak up this authentic, rural slice of Italy, where the first Italian road dedicated to wine, Strada del Vino, was born in the 1960s. The local producers you’ll meet along the way come from a long line of protagonists in viticulture, striving to make the best quality Prosecco on this challenging mountainous terrain.
Starting in the enchanting village of Follina situated in the Treviso countryside, you follow the cycle route around the Revine lakes towards Rolle, a small rural village in Cison di Valmarino. When you arrive, you can enjoy your first local wine tasting in a place described by the Italian poet, Andre Zanzotto, as, “a postcard sent by the Gods” thanks to its surrounding landscape of splendid vineyard-punctuated hills. Afterwards, you will visit the medieval village of Asolo, known to the locals as “the city of a hundred horizons” before making your descent towards Bassano Del Grappa, to taste the world-famous distilled spirit, Grappa, made from pomace.
On our Taste of Prosecco Cycling trip, with departures expected for 2022, you’ll also have the opportunity to cycle through the heart of the Prosecco Hills and learn more about the locals deep-rooted affinity with oenology and viticulture. Starting from Col San Martino, you’ll pedal to Colbertaldo where you’ll continue towards Valdobbiadene, the capital of Prosecco. Afterwards, you will head to Guia to enjoy another local wine tasting with breath-taking views overlooking the Santo Stefano vineyards. While you’re in the area, we’d recommend trying some local specialities at the enchanting Osteria senz‘Oste tavern.
In this rustic 19th century farmhouse you can serve yourself and purchase homemade bread, local cold cuts of Sopressa, delicious alpine cheeseboards, traditional Italian desserts and of course, bottles of Prosecco to take to your picnic table and enjoy the stunning panoramas of the Cartizze vines below. You can even get a bottle of Prosecco from one of the local vending machines just past Osteria senz‘Oste. Located on the Colline del Cartizze, the hill is known for producing the most premium Prosecco in the entire DOCG region, Superiore di Cartizze. The vending machines have a great selection of bottles that make for the perfect memento of your trip, or equally great for sharing a glass with your partner or friends as the sun goes down over the vineyards.
So, there you have it. On National Prosecco Day we hope you all raise a glass and say Salute to the local producers and families in the Prosecco Hills from the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene hills to the quaint medieval towns of Asolo and Rolle, who have worked hard to keep the ancient viticulture and Prosecco traditions alive.