Before we flew home, I had us drive to a vineyard 20 minutes outside the city of Verona. But it wasn’t just any vineyard. It was the gorgeous Serego Alighieri Estate, a vineyard in the Valpolicella wine region belonging to direct descendants of Dante The Poet from 1353!! Dante holds a big presence in Verona and the surrounding area. It was his first destination after the exile from Florence. He stayed there for at least 7 years, writing parts of the Divine Comedy, gaining sources of inspiration and references from the city. I would love to return and learn more about Dante and Verona, but for now, I think visiting his family winery is pretty amazing! Valpolicella wines come in all styles and prices, from fresh and light-bodied, to bold and age worthy, to dessert sweet. It was definitely an interesting palate of tastings!
The Serego Alighieri estate is the one with the longest historical, cultural and winemaking tradition in Valpolicella, dating back more than 650 years. It all began in 1353 when Pietro Alighieri, son of the Supreme Poet Dante, who had followed his father into exile in Verona, bought the Casal dei Ronchi property in Gargagnago in the centre of Valpolicella Classica, which remains the heart of the property today.
In 1549, the Alighieri family found itself with only female heirs, and married into the powerful Imperial family of Serego; ever since then descendants of the family have called themselves by the double-barrelled name, Serego Alighieri.
In the 16th century, Marcantonio Serego was an enthusiastic proponent of agricultural reform, of land reclamation and of increasing the productiveness of his estates. Crop cultivation managed as a science and as an art began in the eighteenth century with the identification of the right habitat for each product. In the 1920s, after phylloxera, Pieralvise Serego Alighieri founded the School of Agriculture in Gargagnago to replant local native grape varieties.
Tenuta Serego Alighieri became one the most prestigious historic Venetian estates under the umbrella of the Masi Group in 1973.http://www.seregoalighieri.it/en/estate
Our tour began visiting the courtyard and gardens, continuing on to the drying loft, and ending with a walk through the vineyard to reach the cellars. I was particularly interested in seeing the drying loft as this is a technique I have not been able to see or learn much of yet.
Paved with the typical Prun stone of the area, the wide courtyard was once used for agricultural purposes. The 11 ancient vines inside the yard were planted in 1875 to mark the birth of Count Pieralvise, who went on to found the Agricultural School… Among the very few that survived phylloxera in the early 1900s, these vines produce the Serego Alighieri clone of the Molinara grape. Vineyards opposite produce the Serego Alighieri Molinara to give unique personality to wines produced by this historic house.http://www.seregoalighieri.it/en/estate
The Drying Loft
Facing the courtyard with its vines is the historic drying loft for Appassimento, the traditional method used in the Venetian regions to concentrate aromas and perfumes in wines. The “arele,” or bamboo racks, in the drying loft are where grapes are laid out to dry. Grapes from the traditional Valpolicella blend, Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, are left for a minimum of 100 days before vinification to make the two great wines of Valpolicella: Amarone and its sweet alter ego, Recioto. Two prestigious cru wines are made at Possessioni Serego Alighieri: Vaio Armaron Amarone, which was classed as one of the ten best wines of the world by Wine Spectator, and Casal Dei Ronchi Recioto.http://www.seregoalighieri.it/en/estate
During the months (typically 3-4) that these grapes are shriveling in the drying lofts, the sugar, acid, flavor, and tannins start to concentrate- meaning they can get more out of the grapes. The end result is dried fruit flavors, higher alcohol content, more tannins, and more color.
The Serego Alighieri cellars are the oldest in Valpolicella, the resting place for wines with identifiable character and nobility. Their aromas are surprising and come from the use of 600-litre cherry wood barrels. Still in use today, following the ancient traditions of the Serego Alighieri family, cherry wood helps to increase the smoothness and rotundity of the wines, accentuating the typical aromas of grapes from the Valpolicella region. The cellars are also stocked with some oak barrels, which are used for the first stages of maturation, since cherry wood is very porous and can only be used for a maximum of four months to give its unique personality to the wines.http://www.seregoalighieri.it/en/estate
It was also neat to see an area where they have their best vintages stocked to hold and age over time.
The tour concluded outside with a small tasting of several wine variations and a small block of chocolate to accompany the dessert wine.
- Toar. Valpolicella Classico Superiore
- Montepiazzo. Valpolicella Classico Superiore
- Riserva Costasera. Amarone Classico
- Casal Dei Ronchi. Recioto
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!