On many trips to Northeastern Italy, my passion is to discover delicious local specialties and amazing wines of these regions; each area has their own unique style and story. Finding wineries to visit that reflect the culture and traditional wines of each area I visit is one of my goals during my research trips; my preferred producers are off the beaten path, small, and family operated, using varietals little known outside the region. Here are some tips based on my travels, for those of you who want to do some exploring on your own!
1. If you are serious about finding small, family run producers, do your homework.
Using wine guides such as Slow Foods, Gambero Rosso, and the internet can help you identify some of these, and learn a little about them. Get their names and street addresses. Keep in mind if you want to taste, you are looking for the cantina. In some cases, the cantina is located at the vineyard, but not always.
Another good place to start is with the Strade del Vino, or Wine Roads, in Italy. We often incorporate these into our bike, hike or walking tours, and there are plenty of wineries all along these routes to visit. These are official routes located in wine regions all over the country. They are well marked, and wind their way through the vineyards of a particular region.
2. The local tourist office is a great source of information.
Just take care to check the hours; they are not always open every day, and often only in the mornings. They will have maps and someone who speaks English that can recommend a route.