Let’s start with an honest confession…
Up until last year, I knew absolutely nothing about Prosecco.
As far as I was aware it was just a tasty and cheaper Champagne alternative which I could pick up from the supermarket for £7 yet still look classy in front of my friends (absolutely no shame!).
But after a visit to the Prosecco region of Italy last month I learnt that there so much more to this popular sparkling wine. And here’s how you could too!
But first… Prosecco for beginners
I won’t go into an in-depth lecture about Prosecco (we’d be here all day) but I will skim over the basics…
Prosecco is a sparkling wine originally from Italy which must be produced using at least 85% Glera grape.
Prosecco can be produced outside of Italy, however, to know you’re getting the best quality Prosecco from its native country you need to be keeping an eye out for DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) and DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) on the labels. These signify higher standards of production and higher quality products.
Prosecco DOC is produced across the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions of Northern Italy, with producers having to comply with strict standards, while the highest level of Prosecco, Prosecco Superior DOCG, can be found in a small region between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the Veneto region and is controlled by the highest level of regulations.
Finally, within Prosecco Superior DOCG is a small 107 hectares of land which produces DOGC Superior di Cartizze, the absolute top of the top – the Grand Cru of Prosecco!
How to visit the Prosecco region of Italy
So now that you’re a Prosecco expert its time to get tasting, and where better to taste the best Prosecco than in the Prosecco DOGC region itself.
(FYI you don’t actually need to know anything about Prosecco to visit the region)
Here’s a step by step guide to visiting the Prosecco region…
Step 1: Fly into Venice
Did you know that the Prosecco region is just a measly 1 hour journey away from Venice?
With its 20 million visitors each year you’d think that more people would make the short journey, however, (for now) the beautiful Prosecco region is still a somewhat hidden gem in Northern Italy.
Step 2: Get the train from Venice to the Prosecco region
The easiest way to reach the Prosecco region from Venice is by train.
You can jump on the train at either Venice airport (Venezia Mestre) or Venice Island (Venezia Santa Lucia) and it’ll take around an hour to reach the Prosecco region. The main station you’ll be aiming for is Conegliano, however, if you’re opting for a driver (see below) they may want to pick you up from a smaller regional station such as Susegana on the same line.
Get a more detailed rundown of travelling between Venice and the Prosecco region here.
Step 3: Book a Prosecco Driver
The Prosecco DOGC region is also known as the Prosecco Hills and is spread out over 6,586 hectares of land. Each of the wineries and estates is separated by rows of vineyards which aren’t the easiest or quickest to navigate by foot.
The best way to explore the Prosecco region is to book a Prosecco driver who will be your party’s designated driver for the day (don’t worry, they do get to drink Prosecco on their days off too!).
The drivers cost just €50 per hour for a minimum of 4 hours and can take groups of up to 6 (the price remains the same no matter how many people).
Having a driver not only makes sure that all members of your group can sample as much Prosecco as possible, but they will also help you plan your trip in advance by explaining your winery and restaurant options, as well as helping you book your tastings ahead of time.
Step 5: Visit Prosecco Wineries
There are over 100 wineries in the Prosecco region, all producing their own varieties of the local sparkling wine. The majority of wineries welcome guests with open arms and will be happy to give you a tour, tell you about the production process and set up a tasting with their own prosecco – do check availability and opening times if you’re going without a driver as you may not be able to just turn up.
Having visited a few different wine regions and wineries during my travels, I would easily say that the tastings at the Prosecco wineries are among the best I have done.
The winery staff are welcoming and attentive, the glasses are a good size and more often than not you’re also treated to a plate of local cheeses, meats and olives to accompany the wine (it is Italy after all).
With your Prosecco Driver’s help, you can also tailor the tastings to your own style.
Do you want to immersive yourself inside the winery and learn everything about Prosecco and its production? Or do you want to sit outside in the sun and enjoy your Prosecco in peace? Or maybe one followed by the other? Whatever your prefered style of tasting, it can be organised.
Step 6: Take in the beauty of the Prosecco region
You can’t visit the Prosecco region of Italy without taking some time to simply appreciate its natural beauty. The rolling Prosecco hills are full of vines and spotted with charming old buildings. Don’t miss the opportunity to step outside and take a little look around – as tempting as it is to spend your entire time sitting sipping Prosecco!
Step 7: Pair with some delicious Italian food
When visiting the Prosecco region you won’t only end your day full of Prosecco but you’re also guaranteed to have a belly full of delicious Italian food too.
As mentioned previously, most of the wineries will supply you with locally produced cheeses, cured meats and snacks to pair with your Prosecco. If you head to Borgoluce estate, make sure to try their freshly-made buffalo mozzarella and ricotta drizzled with home-made honey!
There are also some delicious gelaterias across the region where you can try all sorts of flavours, including Prosecco DOCG flavoured gelato at Boutique Del Gelato in Valdobbiadene or Bread, Butter and Marmalade flavoured gelato from Gelaterita in Miane.
And if after all of this you’re still hungry for a proper meal, there are plenty of fantastic local restaurants in the Prosecco region.
A personal favourite of mine was Locanda Da Lino, a popular local restaurant in Solighetto. Locanda Da Lino is definitely one of the most unique restaurants in the Prosecco region decor-wise, with hundreds of old pots and pans lining most of the ceilings and walls above the elegantly laid tables. There’s a great wine menu (because of course you’ll need another drink!), as well as some delicious dishes including fresh pasta, meat and fish.
Step 8 (optional): Book a hotel in the Prosecco region
Either this is where your Prosecco journey ends and you’ll skip to step 9, or alternatively book a hotel and stay in the region overnight. And let’s be honest, with the prices of hotels in Venice it’s probably a pretty good option!
There are some truly charming hotels, guesthouses and BnBs scattered across the region. You can either stay in one of the main towns such as Conegliano, Valdobbiadene or Follina where you’ll be walking distance from shops and restaurants, or alternatively, stay at a more rural agrotourism hotel which often boast beautiful views across the vineyards and have amenities such as pools and on-site restaurants.
Step 9: Head back to Venice
Head back to Venice with a smile on your face and a belly full of Prosecco!
And if you found some that you particularly like, make sure to bring some bottles home to impress your friends with. The wineries and Prosecco drivers can help organise shipping, or if it’s just a few bottles wrap them up safely in your check-in suitcase.