The Veneto is the largest wine producing region in Italy. The region tops Tuscany in wine production and, alongside Milan’s Lombardy and Turin’s Piemonte, is a powerhouse of the industrial and industrious North. Experts regard Tuscany, Piemonte and Veneto as producing the highest quality wines in Italy, but Veneto’s wine-prowess is popularly overlooked within Italy and internationally. The Veneto gets ragged on for being industrial, but a modern mixture of industry and creativity is its strong point: the textiles of Treviso and Vicenza, Giuseppe Brion’s futuristic electronics, and the beauty of a 1980s steel Battaglin racing bike. Veneto wines are no exception.
There are similarities to Languedoc-Roussillon, France’s largest wine producing region, whose general alignment towards industrial wine has also opened specific spaces for exquisite Vins de Pays that don’t have to bend to the strict rules of the AOC. Those wines are redefining the tired assumption that Vins de Pays are universally unworthy. If there’s a lot of wine being made somewhere, there’s usually space for variation and creativity. Industrial Soave can be an uninspired table wine or a well-thought-out crowd-pleaser and Veneto winemakers are obsessed with using semi-dried grapes to exploit the Soave grape’s hidden flavors. It’s the same industrious trick that transforms Amarone’s somewhat boring grapes into one of the worlds most sought-after wines.
Well-known Prosecco houses like Zonin and Ruffino are not artisanal, yet they make very enjoyable wine that’s regionally characteristic. In the Veneto, you’ll find rustic wine, industrial wine, ancient methods and clever innovations side by side. In each instance at a variety of price points with winners and losers at each level. It’s easy to fantasize about wine through the rural idyll, but wine is an industry and yielding an accessible quality product is a fair point of pride. All over the place, the year 1900 pops up as a landmark for the Veneto and it represents when industrial practices became widespread in the area. I aspire to inform about independent and unexpected wines as well as the history of this corner of Europe, so, for a moment I think it’s fair to consider the ways industrialization improved the wines of the region. Since the 1860s the Charmat tank method has been used in the Veneto to democratize prosecco production. However, by most accounts, it wasn’t until the 1960s that noteworthy large-scale Prosecco began to boom, alongside other fetish items of Italian industrial design.