In the town of Brendola found in the Berici Hills lies Cantina San Valentino where we experienced a fantastic wine tour and tasting, (held thanks to the support / collaboration of Italy by US), on a beautiful (hot) Sunday afternoon. As a group of 20-30 members from the Vicenza Military Community, we were treated like family while being shown around the residence and the vineyards.
The evening started off with a brief introduction of the men behind it all — Matteo and Silvio — by our interpreter, Cecilia (a collaborator of Italy by US). We weren’t expecting the weather to be so hot, so I found it incredibly considerate of them to switch up the schedule a bit to allow us maximum time in the shade of the cellar and to observe the production process. We were shown around the winery and were able to see what happens after they collect the grapes. They demonstrated for us how a large machine separates the grapes from the seeds, and how white grapes are collected into one section while grapes for the red wine travel directly from this machine back to the wine barrels in the nearby room.
In the large room beside where the grapes are separated and collected sits the 11,400 L barrels used to keep the grapes fresh and cool. We learned that it’s very important to the production process that the wine temperature is kept stable, and that it takes about a week to 10 days of fermentation in the barrels to produce the perfect taste and color.
In the “cellar” area, somewhat like a tunnel that runs underneath the nearby road, is where the bottles are stored to keep them cool throughout the hot months of the summer.
After learning more about the wine production, we meandered down to the vineyards to see where they grow the grapes as well as olive trees! They explained how they use GPS to plan out the vineyards on the computer and a machine to make perfect rows. We were all amazed at the length of time it takes to fully produce the finished product.
Once we were all nice and toasty from being out in the sun, we trekked back into the house where they had a family-style long table set up for our tasting. We started with water to cool us down from our time in the scorching heat and then were blessed with numerous wines to taste along with tasty appetizers. Served ice cold, Pinot Bianco (Vino Spumante Brut), is ideal with fish as well as an assortment of meats and cheeses. Following the spumante, we tasted Manzoni Veneto – a straw yellow-colored wine that had a unique taste, but nonetheless paired very well with meats. Our next selection, Tai Rosso Frizzante, pairs well with chicken appetizers, fish, or light meals, according to Matteo. One of my personal favorites was the Refosco Rosso — a more typical red wine with very bold flavors.
They passed out bottles for the tasting, placing a few of each kind along the table so if we enjoyed one in particular, we could have a couple of glasses (as long as we were not driving!). Once all the wine had been apportioned, bread and olive oil were shared for us to try and both were quite delicious. Numerous bottles were purchased at the end of the evening!
This was a very enjoyable experience and, despite not speaking any English, Matteo and Silvio were so friendly and welcoming. Our translator, Cecilia, did an excellent job of communicating everything and continuously asking if we had any questions. It was a large group, but never once felt like it. Our hosts were extremely considerate about the heat, and we enjoyed getting to know those at our table during the wine tasting. This is a perfect way to enjoy a casual Sunday wine experience in the beautiful hills of Colli Berici.
It should be noted that San Valentino currently only accepts cash, so make sure you stop by an ATM prior to coming because you’ll definitely want to leave with a few bottles (or cases) of wine after your visit!
Find the address / directions and more information about the winery here.
Follow the ItalybyUS.com website and / or their Facebook page in order to know the next date for this very same event or many more fun events around the north east Italy. Again, if you are a group of minimum 10 persons schedule your own private tour by emailing email@example.com.