Dotted with vineyards lying along its clay and silicon terraces, this is Valtellina, an alpine valley in Lombardy where the task of winemaking is difficult and demanding. Here vineyards are only cultivated along steep slopes, clinging to the rocks and supported by small walls, at an height of about 1000 metres, in a challenging environment for the local vine growers. A unique terroir, a profoundly diverse land in its geological, morphological and environmental features. 2500 kilometres of terracing where grapes are still manually carried on the back although in recent times a new system using a small railway has slightly relieved the hardships of this job.
Winemaking in the mountains
In this region the Nebbiolo “delle Alpi” is grown and it is locally known as Chiavennasca. However, in the area there are other local vines such as Rossola, Pignola valtellinese and Prugnola. A south-facing area that, due to its exposure to modest rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year, is particularly suited for viticulture. Its exposure in fact allows the formation of favourable local microclimates. The Rhaetian Alps, moreover, protect the valley from the cold northerly winds and the Bergamo Alps with Mount Adamello block any strong southerly wind. The breva, a light breeze from Lake Como gently blows upon these hills from late spring into summer, bringing a light wind that dries up plants and soil and favours pollination. Winemaking in Valtellina dates back to very ancient times. The largest expansion of vineyards occurred in the 19th century with more than 6000 hectares, most of them producing Nebbiolo. Nowadays during the harvests in Valtellina the grapes are carried with the help of “portini”, particular baskets that are placed on tractors and then sent to the winery after going up and down along steep paths and ladders that connect the cultivated terraces.
Wines in Valtellina
- 2 DOCG: Valtellina Superiore e Sforzato “sfursat” di Valtellina;
- 1 DOC: Rosso di Valtellina;
- 1 IGT: Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio
When it comes to DOCG VALTELLINA SUPERIORE we must stress the differences of the wines produced in 4 different sub-areas. Following the vineyards path from the west to the east we find the elegant Sassella, the smoother Grumello, the more structured Inferno and finally the Valgella, the least complex of all. These wines perfectly match every local dish such as pizzoccheri, polenta with bitto, stews, game and aged cheeses.
The Terraces walkway
The terraces path is an area on the Rhaetic slopes in the mid/lower Valtellina with a cycle and foot path. It’s a quintessentially Valtellinese agricultural landscape, with vineyards dotting the terraces but also ancient buildings, reminding us of the great past of this area. Vineyards are usually south facing and cultivated by terracing the steep slopes with dry stone that helps increase the heat from the sun. Vineyard terraces here are extremely important for their geographical, agricultural and historical values.
Come and find out the activities by Officine Turistiche in this area
Read more, click here
Read more, click here