Valtellina and Winemaking in the mountains
Terrazzamenti in Valtellina sulla Strada dei Vini della Valtellina

La Valtellina

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

Viticoltura eroica in Valtellina

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

I Vini della Valtellina

  • DOCG: Valtellina Superiore e Sforzato “sfursat” di Valtellina;
  • 1 DOCRosso 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

Via dei Terrazzamenti

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

Historical Bitto and Rebels of the Alps
On the program is a visit to the Bitto center of Gerola, hiking to the mountain pastures to meet the Rebelscalèc and casère, an overnight in a refuge, the opportunity of tasting Bitto, other cheeses from the Alps and local traditional dishes. Officine Turistiche lets you discover where and how this cheese origins. You can learn about its thousand-year old history directly from the people who produce it through a hike in the marvelous Val Gerola.

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Midway, between the high and low valley, 1050 meters high, in the heart of Gerola Alta, we find the Historical Bitto Center where the best rounds age in the casèra up to 10 years. The historical cheese fom the Bitto Valleys is produced exclusively during summer pasture months. Officine Turistiche offers you the possibility of getting to know this cheese of thousand-year old origins by visiting the museum, the aging cellars stacked with rounds, participating to a vertical Bitto tasting and savoring a lunch based on local traditions.
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La storia di Mamete Prevostini ci racconta di un’ascesa qualitativa costante che ha portato la famiglia, da essere semplici produttori di poche bottiglie servite nel ristorante di famiglia di Mese, a conquistare fama e popolarità grazie all’acquisto delle migliori vigne e a radicali investimenti nella nuova cantina ecosostenibile. La storia dei vini Prevostini, vini di Valtellina, ha inizio infatti nel Crotto, dove il nonno Mamete Prevostini cominciò la produzione di vino da uve locali servendolo poi ai clienti del ristorante di famiglia. Con questa attività potrete conoscere il Nebbiolo delle Alpi e la Valtellina con il suo terroir unico al mondo visitando i terrazzamenti circondati dallo splendido scenario montano. Officine Turistiche vi porta a conoscere la Cantina storica Mamete Prevostini e a degustare 4 vini in abbinamento ad un pranzo basato sulle tradizioni locali.
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About Author

Guido Clerici
Guido Clerici | Photographer since 1990, belongs to the Ordine dei Giornalisti (Italy’s Order of Journalists) since 2004. He has published covers, articles and advertisements on major Italian and international magazines (GQ Italy, GQ Germany, GQ Russia, GQ Spain, AD Russia, Traveller Russia, Max, Abitare, Interni), portraying national and international celebrities such as John Malkovich, Casey Stoner, Chef Cracco, Vico Magistretti, Winton Marsalis, Pistorius and many others. He works with companies and architecture and design studios making pictures for brochures, catalogues, and websites. He has been represented by Grazia Neri, Italy’s main photographic agency, and Agenzia LUZphoto of Milan. Beside photography, he works in the food-and-wine and tourism field. Between 2010 and 2012 he earns a Travel Agency Technical Director title, a Sommelier diploma with AIS and a Cheese Taster title with ONAF. Through Officine Turistiche, a website offering environmentally friendly wine-and-food itineraries, he also offers photo shooting, websites design, and event management.