“Conegliano Valdobbiadene” is not exactly an easy mouthful for English tongues, and this small wine region in Northern Italy is not on a lot of peoples’ radars. Yet in 2019, the year of the 50th anniversary of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Consortium, significant and impactful milestones occurred, and soon this this area will be widely known around the globe.
The area of Conegliano Valdobbiadene lies in the countryside situated 50 km from Venice and around 100 km from the Dolomites. Here vine-growing has ancient origins. Prosecco was born here, and has been produced in this region for three centuries.
This amazing winemaking region is considered one-of-a kind because vines are planted on a series of hills with a morphology known as “hogback”: a series of hills with narrow ridges and steep, rugged slopes. Farmers adapted to this landscape and developed the use of cigliones: a type of terracing that uses grass-covered soil that helps anchor the slopes and reduces soil erosion (instead of stones). While the steep hills of the Prosecco DOCG have been shaped by man over the centuries to master agriculture, this landscape makes mechanized harvest impossible. All the grapes must be picked by hand.
The highest and most precipitous areas in the region require tremendous effort and determination from farmers. These are considered the “heroic vineyards” where grapes are picked for Rive wines. The Rive (steep hillsides in the local dialect) are a collection of vineyards identified as source for the highest quality grapes which are picked by hand.