Prosecco has been cultivated for a long time in the Treviso foothills, more exactly in the hills area that runs from Valdobbiadene to Conegliano. The history of a wine, especially one of ancient origins, is intimately linked not only to the land where it is produced, but also to the events that over the time have marked the life of the successive generations inhabiting the local territory.
Col Vetoraz lays on the very top of the homonymous hill next to the "Mont" of Cartizze in S. Stefano di Valdobbiadene.
We are on one of the highest spots in Cartizze, 400 metres above sea level, from where the sight can recognize the entire area, the hamlet "Fol" on the east side and the hamlet "Sacol" on the west side.
Miotto Family settled down in Col Vetoraz in 1838 and started growing Prosecco and Cartizze grapes.
In 1993 Francesco, a direct descendant of Miotto family, together with Paolo De Bortoli and myself established the current Col Vetoraz, creating a heterogeneous and stimulating workgroup.
In these last years the growth in experience of Col Vetoraz has been renowned and we think we have reached a good starting point in order to contribute to the identification and qualification of our wonderful land.
Prosecco has been cultivated for a long time in the Treviso foothills, more exactly in the hills area that runs from Valdobbiadene to Conegliano. The history of a wine, especially one of ancient origins, is intimately linked not only to the land where it is produced, but also to the events that over the time have marked the life of the successive generations inhabiting the local territory. Prosecco, in fact, grown for over 10 centuries in the foothills of the Marca Trevigiana running from Valdobbiadene to Conegliano, has significantly influenced the habits, the customs, the traditions and the economy of the local community.
The origins of Prosecco are indeed ancient, dating back even prior to the Roman colonisation in the 2nd century BC, as witnessed in the famous verses by Virgil describing this land, where "the flexible vines weave light shadows".
Very little is known about the varieties present in these hills during the Roman times, nonetheless there is historical mention of Prosecco. According to some researchers the actual Prosecco is the same variety that in the Roman period was used to make the much-decanted Pucino wine, a wine that the empress Livia, the wife of Augustus, credited for her longevity, and that was thus described: "No other wine is better for medicinal purposes". Even Pliny the Elder, in the review of the main wines known in Caesar's Rome, spoke of the Pucino, lauding it as one of the great wines served at the tables of Roman dignitaries, and as a wine that could make people live longer. In the late roman times San Venanzio Fortunato, the Bishop of Poitiers (535 - 603), remembered his native country by saying: "Terra duplavensis, where the vine flowers eternal, beneath the mountains with naked peaks".
The period of maximum splendour for the vines and the wines of the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano area was in the 15th, 16th and the first half of the 17th centuries. Many documents from this time clearly demonstrate how important and well appreciated the wine, made in these hills, was, and how this wine fuelled a reliable and profitable export business, above all to the Germanic countries and to Venice.
The first decades of the 18th century saw a decline in local agriculture and winemaking, culminating in the exceptional frosts of 1709 that killed off most of the vineyards, and forced farmers to opt for more rustic and less precious grape varieties. As some documents show, the poor quality of the wines made in this period also depended on the inexperience of the farmer, who started to neglect the vineyards, and to harvest the grapes before they were fully ripe.
This period of decline was followed by a recovery that lasted almost until the end of the 18th century, and that involved many agricultural and cultural initiatives aimed at reviving the ancient splendour of local viticulture, such as the establishment of the academies, as part of the reforms enacted by Government of Venetian Republic. The fall of the Serenissima in 1797 did not put a stop to the will of the local population to continue the revival of viticulture and winemaking.
Following the Congress of Vienna, the Austrian governors of the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom commissioned a survey of the grape varieties present in the area for the purposes of agricultural planning, the following observation was made: "The grapes grown in the hills of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano are Perera, Peverella, Pignoletta, Verdisa, Merzemino nero, Prosecca and Bianchetta, and these are used to make wines that are in great demand in the markets of Carinthia and Germany. In the Valdobbiadene district, white grapes are preferred, and make exquisite wines".
However 1880 saw the start of a black period: the peronospora made its appearance, which together with oidium began to progressively reduce the cultivation of the vine. Further bad luck came in 1900 with phylloxera, which destroyed most of the vineyards, followed by the devastation and abandonment brought by the First World War. The monograph on the growing of Prosecco published in 1887 reads: "In the Conegliano area Prosecco is losing ground every day, disappearing to the scourge of oidium, of peronospora and of the inclement weather, and now survives almost exclusively in the Valdobbiadene district and in the hills of Pieve di Soligo, Soligo, Solighetto, Farra, Follina and Col San Martino".
In the post-war and post-phylloxera period, only the tenacity of the local population allowed a revival in the cultivation of the vine. This renewal process brought deep transformation in local vines-viniculture, which started taking on the connotations we know today. This marked the beginning of the era of the specialization and selection, with the dominant pre-sence of the Prosecco varieties, the main ones being:
- Prosecco Bianco or Prosecco Balbi
- Prosecco Tondo, or Prosecco Gentile, or Prosecco Minuto
- Prosecco Lungo.
The Treviso foothills, and especially the hills that run from Valdobbiadene to Conegliano, have for centuries proven their pedigree in the cultivation of the vine.
Most of these hills emerged in the Tertiary era, formed from clayey limestone, with yellow-bluish marl and ashen and sky-blu sandstone. The physical-chemical composition of these soils is ideal for giving the grapes character and bouquet, above all when accompanied by the temperature range between day and night due to the nearby mountains.
This area of production covers sixteen council areas across the foothills, where the vine is cultivated at altitudes ranging from 50 to 500 metres above sea level, on 3600 hectares of vineyards with an average annual production of around 40,000 tonnes of grapes.
Inside this area, in the territory of San Pietro di Barbozza, lies a microzone covering 106 hectares of selected plantings, where Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze is produced.
The multitude of unique chemical-physical properties of the soil, the exposure, the slopes, the altitudes and the microclimates combine to create the diversity that defines the various varieties of Prosecco grown in this area. The hilly area consists of parallel chains that run east-west, between the river Piave to the west, and the river Meschio and the Crevada stream to the east, and is divided into two districts by the river Soligo. The western district is called the Mandamento di Valdobbiadene, and is made up of Valdobbiadene, Combai, Miane, Farra di Soligo, Col San Martino and Vidor hills; eastern part is called the Mandamento di Conegliano and covers the Conegliano, Carpesica, Ogliano, Feletto, Refrontolo, Susegana, Solighetto and Pieve di Soligo hills.
The earth that makes up these parallel belts of hills has different geological origins, spanning three eras: the Secondary era, and precisely the early Cretaceous, middle Cretaceous and late Cretaceous periods, the Tertiary era, Miocene, Pliocene and Pontian periods, and the Quaternary era.
The hills of Conegliano, San Pietro di Feletto and Susegana are considered alluvial phenomena starting in the Miocene era and continuing until the ice age, and generally consist of heavy, partly ferritized soil that is dark red in colour. The hills of Vittorio Veneto, Carpesica, Scomigo, Ogliano and Colle Umberto, on the other hand, are of morainic origin, formed in the Quaternary era, and consist of deep, permeable soil with abundant skeleton. The hills that run from Soligo to Farra di Soligo and Vidor, easily identified by their height and steep slopes, originate from the Pliocene and the Pontian eras, while the hills that extend from Serravalle eastwards to Cison di Valmarino and to San Pietro di Barbozza are made up of clayey limestone, marl and sandstone from the Miocene era, and have the soil with the most renowned physical-chemical characteristics.
Finally, the hills that from Valdobbiadene run down to Vidor feature significant geological variations, being made from alternating morainic deposits, alluvial terraces, and alluvial fans. This is the land of Prosecco, where the typical bouquet, spice and harmony of this wine have been produced for centuries. The Valdobbiadene-Conegliano district, with more than 100 makers of spumante, is one of the most important sparkling wine making areas in Italy and the world.
Most of the grapes grown in Valdobbiadene and Conegliano are today used for the production of sparkling wine.
Valdobbiadene-Conegliano Prosecco Spumante has received increasing recognition in recent years, becoming the best recognized and most demanded Charmat-method sparkling wine in the world.
Some people wrongly believe that sparkling wine made using the Charmat method is considered "less important" than wine made using the traditional method, however each wine has its own character and history: harmony, balance and expressions that are typical and cannot be compared.
The Charmat method is the ideal system for the production of sparkling wines with fruity aromas, as this method respects the original character of the fruit.
During the second fermentation of these sparkling wines with floral and fruity aromas, the primary objective is to avoid any interference caused by the fermentation yeast and maintain the uniqueness and the character of the fruit and the terroir unaltered.
To conserve, to respect and not to alter is surely no easy task: it means knowing how to accept what the earth and the vine have provided, and working sensitively so as to express the balance, the harmony and the appeal that are typical of these wines.
The fundamental difference between the Charmat method and the traditional method lies in the duration on the fermentation lees after the prise de mousse, that is, the development of the carbon dioxide, which in the former case is as short as possible, and in the latter case much longer.
Prosecco is a fascinating wine for its gentleness, its suppleness, its moderate body, its velvet smoothness and its sapidity. It is an harmonious and graceful wine, and one that begs to be supped.
The fundamental aspect of Prosecco is the absolute respect for the original characteristics of the fruit. This is why when making Prosecco the ambitious objective set is always to express the nature and the terroir of the grapes that have been selected, without adding or taking anything away: strict adherence to a method aimed at preserving the expressive integrity of the fruit is the only way to achieve the natural balance and the harmony that each wine is capable of conveying.
"The real culture of drinking... is drinking with pleasure"