I’m not going to lie – I have a crush on Stanley Tucci. It didn’t happen until I started watching his series “Searching for Italy”. While planning our trip to Italy, Tim, Sarah, Susan, and I watched the Venice episode, and decided at that time we were going to the Venissa Winery. If Stanley can do it, we can do it!
It was really easy to make a reservation – just go to their website, and you will see the information about visiting the winery. There is also a Michelin starred restaurant affiliated with the winery, but we decided to save that for our next trip.
We have our reservation, now we just have to figure out how to get there. Luckily we have Susan with us! She has been to Italy several times and kind of knows her way around. Venissa is located on the island of Mazzorbo, which is about a 30 minute Vaporetto (water bus) ride from Venice. We had already purchased a 2-day Vaporetto pass, which included rides to the other islands, so we were set.
Of course, the day we chose to go it was raining and chilly. The ride to Mazzorbo was easy, and the winery was not very far from the Vaporetto stop. We were early though … by about 45 minutes or so. And we didn’t exactly know how to enter. There was a lot of activity and what looked like construction or remodeling going on in what we thought was the entrance. Never fear – Susan and Tim found a cafe around the corner that was affiliated with the winery, so we were able to warm up and get a coffee.
Our host was Luca, and he was great! First we started off in the vineyards and he gave us the history of this winery. Venissa is the lowest vineyard in the world, between sea level and 1/2 meter below sea level. They grow the Dorona grape, a grape indigenous to the Venetian islands. The Dorona grape has a very shallow root system, that grows horizontally instead of vertically, making it ideal to grow them in the marshy land of the Venetian islands. The grape was thought to be lost during the flood of 1966, but in 2002 a single vine was found, which led to the discovery of 88 other vines, and the eventual establishment of Venissa Winery. Please read this article in Condé Nast Traveler if you want to learn more about the discovery of this lost grape – it is fascinating!
We went to a nice tasting room where Luca took us on a wine adventure. First, we tasted three white wines (Dorona) – Venusa 2019, Venissa 2017, and Venissa 2015. The difference between the wines are number of days the grape skins are in contact with the juice, and the number of years the wine is aged in inert containers. Traditionally, the wine was aged in Murano glass containers; now they use concrete vessels.
In the glass, you first notice the golden color of the wine. The Venusa 2019 tasted very fresh and acidic, in contrast to both the Venissa 2017 and 2015, which tasted more full and rich, but not heavy. We all detected a little bit of saltiness, which of course comes from the terroir. These are all delicious, interesting, and complex wines.
Next we tasted the red wines offered by Venissa Winery. The grapes for these wines are grown on Isola Santa Cristina, a private island owned by the Swarovski family, located close by. There they grow Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, which will then comprise their red wines. We tasted the Venusa Rosso 2016 , the Venissa Rosso 2016, and the Venissa Rosso 2012.
The red wines are a blend of 82% Merlot and 18% Cabernet Sauvignon. The difference in the wines are how they are aged. The Venusa Rosso is aged 3 years in concrete, while the Venissa Rosso is aged in French oak, a combination of new and second use barrels. The wines were amazing!
Luca did an excellent job teaching us about the land and tradition of winemaking in Venice – next time we come we will definitely plan on extending our stay and spending the night on the island.
After our tasting, we wanted to have lunch someplace close. Luca suggested walking to Burano for lunch, but we were on a schedule and had to get back to Venice for another activity. We chose to eat lunch at Trattoria alla Maddalena, which was just a short walk from the Vaporetto stop. It was delicious! And the sun came out!
We had an amazing time on Mazzorbo at the winery, and ended up ordering a case of wine to be shipped home. Funny thing, as I was writing this post, Sarah contacted us to let us know our wine had been delivered. The only problem was that none of us could really remember which wine we ordered! We figured it out though, and everybody is happy 🙂 And thank you Stanley, for the inspiration!
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