We’re introducing a tour that packs two regions into one fantastic trip. Called simply Amarone & Alto Adige, it combines two wine zones that straddle different parts of the Adige River as it runs from the Alps to the Adriatic.
-Explore three wine regions: Alto Adige, Valpolicella (Amarone), Soave
-Private sit-down tastings at Ferrari, Hofstätter, Pieropan, Tiefenbrunner, Cantina Terlano, Trabucchi, Allegrini & more
-Soak up some Shakespeare plus Roman and medieval history on a walking tour of Verona
-Visit Bolzano, home to the museum of Ötzi the Iceman
-Experience (and taste!) the Austrian-flavored culture of Südtirol / Alto Adige
Day 1: To the Alps!
Pick-up at the Trento train station at 10 a.m. We immediately head to our first tasting, which spotlights Trento DOC, a sparkling wine that uses the champagne method. Depending on availability, we’ll either visit Ferrari, the largest and most famous producer, whose wines have feted countless movie stars and showered Formula One race-car drivers, or else Maso Martis, a boutique winery that supplies grapes to Ferrari and also sells sparklers under its own label.
Then we drive up the Adige River valley to scenic Lake Caldaro, our home base for the next few days. Lunch at a winery-owned restaurant introduces the regional mix of Italian and Austrian fare, which includes smoked speck, pickles, and caraway flatbread.
Afterwards, we head to the town of Tramin, the possible birthplace of gewürztraminer. Here we’ll visit Hofstätter, one of the region’s top family-owned wineries (the exception in this land of cooperatives). We’ll take a peek at their experimental vineyard where 15 gewürztraminer clones are grown, then taste their aromatic whites and stellar pinot noir. Dinner will be in Caldaro, where we’ll see how indigenous grapes like schiava and lagrein pair with local cuisine. D - Goldener Stern in Caldaro.
Day 2: Bolzano
Morning is devoted to the city of Bolzano, dubbed “the Gateway to the Dolomites.” There will be free time to visit the museum of Ötzi the Iceman, Europe’s oldest mummy, who lived about 3,000 BC and was discovered in a melting glacier in the Alps. Bolzano also offers outdoor markets, historic churches, a lively café culture, and great outdoor-adventure clothing stores. If time allows, we’ll drive outside of town to Castello Reinegg, dubbed “the painted castle.” This vast fortified residence is filled with rare secular frescoes from the 13th century showing courtship games, hunting scenes, and legends of Tristan.
Our afternoon tasting is at Cantina Terlano. Founded in 1893, this is one of Alto Adige's oldest cooperatives and undoubtedly one of the best, with fantastic gewürtzraminer, pinot bianco, lagrein, merlot, and pinot nero. If you’re thirsty for more, we can do an impromptu tasting-room stop at one of the other cooperatives, such as Caldaro or San Michele Appiano. Finally, we’ll get better acquainted with Tyrolean cuisine during dinner overlooking Lake Caldaro. B, D - Goldener Stern.
Day 3: Alto Adige to Amarone.
Before leaving the Alps, we’ll have one final tasting: Tiefenbrunner is housed in the fabulous 17th century Turnhof estate, where the winemaker’s grandfather’s built eccentric fountain sculptures and bas-reliefs on the façade. Here we’ll try the winery’s top-rated pinot grigio, müller thurgau, gewürztraminer, and lagrein, most likely guided by Christof Tiefenbrunner himself.
After a 90-minute drive south, we arrive in Amarone country, arrayed over five valleys to the north and east of Verona. Today we’ll be focusing on the older, classic territory for Amarone. One of Italy’s most magnificent and coveted red wines, Amarone is made from partially dried grapes following a tradition as old as the Romans. We’ll start to see that laborious process this afternoon at a top family-run estate: either Tommasi, Stefano Accordini, or Zenato, depending on availability.
Afterwards, we’ll head to our charming accommodations: Musella, an Amarone winery situated on a former royal farmstead outside of Verona. Dinner nearby introduces the cuisine of the Veneto, which includes dishes like risotto with cuttlefish (risotto nero), thick spaghetti with duck ragout (bigoli con l’anatra), and the beloved Venetian tiramisu. B - Musella, near Verona
Day 4: Verona & Amarone.
This morning is devoted to a guided walking tour of Verona. This lovely, riverfront city was an important Roman colony, and that history is visible in an impressive Roman coliseum, Imperial city gate, and other traces of Roman architecture incorporated into later buildings. Our guide will walk us through the city’s most important squares, past significant churches and statues, through the bustling Piazze delle Erbe outdoor market with its colorfully frescoed buildings, and into the courtyard when Juliet Capulet waited for Romeo on her balcony.
Afternoon takes us back to the heart of Amarone country, where we’ll visit one of its leading families: Allegrini. We’ll be privileged to visit their stunning Renaissance palace, Villa della Torre (put on your Cinderella gown!), following by a tasting of their benchmark Amarone and La Grola, a rare 100 percent Corvino. Dinner is on your own in Verona. B, D - Musella.
Day 5: Amarone Est & Soave.
Today focuses on Amarone’s up-and-coming zone on the eastern side of town. We’ll visit Trabucchi in the town of Illasi. This estate simply has one of the most beautiful settings around. Because it has parcels in both the Valpolicella and Soave zones, we’ll be able to taste wines from both territories—and great ones at that. Their line-up includes stellar garganega cru and Recioto di Soave (a passito dessert wine), all made according to biodynamic methods, as is their olive oil.
In the afternoon we visit Soave, an ancient fortified city. In the shadow of its crenellated castle, one finds Pieropan, the producer who spearheaded Soave’s rescue. Those who remember Soave as a bland, flabby, mass-produced white are in for a big surprise. Today’s renditions can be concentrated and full of minerality thanks to rigorous winemaking techniques combined with old-vine garganega and volcanic, balsamic, or sea-bottom soils. At Pieropan we’ll also be introduced to the drying techniques (appassimento) that partially raisin the grapes, readying them for a heavenly passito dessert wine. Afterwards, we’ll return to Musella to taste their wines. Our farewell dinner will be at a lovely countryside spot. B, D - Musella.
Day 6 – Buon viaggio! A shuttle to the Verona train station and assistance with your travel plans. B.
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