A Winery on the Lagoon
Took a trip back to Venice one weekend in July, but this time was to avoid the actual city and as many people as possible! We headed out to Mazzorbo, an island that’s actually attached to the touristy colorful town of Burano, but is hardly visited because there is really nothing there- except a vineyard! A vineyard on the lagoon!!
I heard about this winery from our gondolier on our past trip to Venice and knew I had to return. We unknowingly past right by it the last time and I was determined not to miss it this time! Venissa Winery showcases wines that are made from a unique grape that survived a great flood and a great freeze many years ago. The first batch of wines were produced and ready only about 15 years ago, so this is still an experimental winery- testing the limits and flavors of the grape(s). Apparently, this place has also been visited by Stanley Tucci for his show. I was actually told I was the only tourist they knew of recently that was visiting because of the wine and not because Mr. Tucci himself had been there. But now I’ll have to watch that episode on his show, haha.
A stay on the vineyards, eating a Michelin star dinner/talking with the chefs, and watching locals enjoy the slower parts of Venetian life, all on a lagoon. I still can’t believe I get to live weekends like this!
This quick trip began with flying into Venice’s airport from Naples on a Friday night. We ended up staying at a hotel just a 10 minute taxi ride away because it was cheaper than staying in the waterways of Venice. Turns out, the hotel even had a dock on a part of a waterway and we could request a boat ride right to Mazzorbo Island! How easy! It was a little pricey for a private boat, however, it would’ve cost us much more time and money to backtrack into Venice and then out into the islands. This was a simple and straightforward way of travel. Plus, no crowds! We enjoyed a beautiful, and pretty hot, afternoon walking through the vineyard and around Mazzorbo while we waited to check-in to the wine resort. Later that night, we ate the most expensive dinner we will EVER have or have ever had, at the resorts restaurant that sits on the edge of the vineyard.
While accompanying several customers on a trip to Torcello, I noticed an old grapevine in a private house beside the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. I managed to persuade the owner to send me some of the grapes when they had matured. The crates arrived full of lovely thick-skinned grapes with a brilliant golden color. It was the famous Dorona, also known as the “golden grape,” favored by the Venetians and served during the banquets of the Doges and then lost to history.
Venetian Dorona is a thick-skinned, golden grape with unique leaves that produce a steely, long lasting, and elegant nectar. A treasure, hidden away in the tiny rural homesteads and in the history and the traditions of the islands, that was on the verge of extinction. Years of historical and enological research that were the result of the Bisol family’s passion for and dedication to Venice, have managed to revitalize this precious grape variety on the Venissa Estate. It is a special vineyard, mostly on its own rootstock, where the roots of the vines delve deep into the soil rich in clay-laden silt and minerals; heroic viticulture that fully respects nature and is aimed at maintaining a delicate balance that is constantly threatened by high tides. An extreme phenomenon that places great stress on the vines, but one which is able to bestow unique organoleptic characteristics on a wine that is strongly linked to its terroir. From this rare Dorona grape, Venissa is born, a rare wine, the nectar of just one hectare and a limited production of just 4000 bottles per year that are sought out by wine enthusiasts from around the world! The bottle is a homage to Venice’s past, paying tribute to three local traditions: wine, gold, and glass. Venetian artist Giovanni Moretti was immediately inspired by the name of the variety: Dorona, the golden grape. Traditional Venetian gold leaf, worked by hand by the centuries-old Berta Battiloro family, is used to create the “labels” of the Venissa bottles, which are applied by hand to each bottle before being baked in the ovens of a traditional glassmaker on Murano.
The environmental cuisine of Venissa is an expression of the place the chefs work in- The Venissa Estate. They define their style of cooking as cucina ambientale and want their guests to perceive the strong coherence between the place they are visiting and the dishes they are eating. The biodiversity of the Venetian Lagoon, with its wild herbs and local fish, are naturally part of what you’ll find on your plate. The chefs use ingredients that are available to them- with flavors, textures, and colors that are bound to the land and sea they originate from. This culinary experimentation goes hand in hand with other environmental practices such as self-sufficiency to produce vegetables, local sourcing, seasonality, and waste management. “The goal is to leave as little a mark as possible on the environment that is hosting us.” You do not find any dishes on the menu as they change based on the ingredients that are available.
The day we flew out, our flight wasn’t until much later in the evening, so we left our bags at the wine resort and crossed over the connecting bridge into Burano. We checked out the famous lace products that we didn’t have time for the last time we were there, grabbed some lunch, and tried the delicious & cheap Venetian snacks of “cicchetti” with spritz’s.
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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!
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