Near-lost Venetian lagoon vines ready for fifth harvest

06 August, 2014

After a high-tide in 1966 that lay waste to Venetian vines, the indigenous Dorona grape was hanging by a thread. 

It has made its comeback and five years in, the grape’s future in the winemaker’s repertoire now looks assured.

The Bisol family are a month from harvesting their fifth vintage of Venissa, a single varietal wine made from the native grape that barely escaped extinction.

Between 2006-2008, the family behind the Bisol wines from Valdobbiadene in the Proscco Hills, just an hour away from Venice, took cuttings from around half of the 90 surviving Dorona plants in the Venetian lagoon islands region.

With the first vintage arriving in 2010, the grape that prospered from the 1500s to the half-way through the 20th century has now been written back into the record books as an indigenous grape of the region.

Dorona, a golden, thick-skinned white grape, was probably the vine that had once prospered at the Bisols' chosen site, a dormant vineyard on the island of Mazzorbo, which overlooks the Venice Lagoon.

The vineyard, owned by the government and leased to the family for the project, is under a hectare in size; its 4,000 vines producing only 4,000 bottles of  Venissa wine per year.

Winemaker Desiderio Bisol told DI that his approach is similar to that used for red wine, as he allows the grapes around 30 days to macerate. He said: “We wanted to make a wine that could age for many years – a wine for collectors.”

 “It’s very expensive viticulture but a very interesting and important project – people did not know about this region’s wine.”

Venissa is available to order in cases of 6 for €160 for the 2010 and €120 for the 2011. 

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