The Valtellina Valley is one of the hidden gems of Northern Italy just a two-hour drive north from Milan. If you are a wine lover this is an extraordinary destination to visit. Valtellina is the largest terraced vineyards area in Italy with its 2,500 kilometers of picturesque vineyards built over centuries is a candidate to be registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage site and thus get the same recognition as regions like Burgundy and the Champagne Valley. Because of the topography mechanisation is impossible and everything in the vineyards is done by hand: during harvesting, quintals of bunches of grapes are carried in large baskets on the picker’s back along steep paths and steps to tractors for transportation to the wineries. Valtellina with its stunning alpine landscapes, its genuine gastronomy produces almost exclusively red wines, made of Chiavennasca, the local name for the Nebbiolo grape. The characteristics of these wines are less tannic and more delicate than Barolo or Barbaresco .
During our “Valtellina: food & wine tasting tour” you will discover the taste and flavours of this magnificient region. Get on board our private minibus in Varenna and start your journey!
Our first stop will be at a famous and old “Bottega” (grocery store) of the valley dated 1883 for a taste of the two typical cheeses of the region, the well-rounded forms of aged Bitto and Casera hidden in back rooms surrounded by an astonishing succession of vaults, columns and beehive cells. The artisan rules of conservation, care and aging of typical Valtellinese natural products have been handed down from generation to generation by this family despite the changing trends.
The trip continues along the valley to a small historic Valtellina winery located in the ancient home of the noble Quadrio, in Chiuro for an unforgettable 3 wine tasting experience accompanied by cheese and cold meat specialties like the famous bresaola di Valtellina, air-dried salted beef. The winemaker Paolo carries on the family tradition with his sons Luca and Matteo respecting as much as possible the long aging time of Nebbiolo. This is the only winery at the moment that uses the precious antioxidant active ingredients of grapes to produce anti-aging creams, based on red wine.
Lunch will be served in a Michelin listed restaurant renowned for highlighting the ancient land flavors in its dishes. This is the best time to relax and get to know your travelling companions while enjoying the world famous typical dish of “pizzoccheri” (pasta made with buckwheat floor, topped with Casera cheese, butter and cabbage) and the “sciatt”, delicious cheese-filled buckwheat fritters.
The tour continues after lunch to your last stop – a visit to the most historic and largest winery of Valtellina born more than a century ago: Casa Vinicola Nino Negri. You will be guided through a labyrinth of cellars under Palazzo Quadrio, the company’s headquarters, where you will be so amazed by the number of barrels and underground rooms while experiencing the tasting of 4 different wines so interesting that you won’t notice that you have come out in another part of the village.
This concludes your Valtellina experience and now enjoy the journey back to Varenna admiring the beautiful landscapes that surrounds Lake Como.