How a Tiny Italian Resort is Reviving Venetian Viticultere – Featuring Venissa
Venissa’s small outturn has made it a sought-after wine among oenophiles.
If you were looking for an agreeable location to establish a vineyard, you could do a whole lot better than the string of marshy islands that make up Italy’s Venetian lagoon. Never mind the shortage of available real estate and a waterborne logistics economy that makes almost everything more expensive than it is on the mainland. Venice and the islands surrounding it make up what could be the world’s most romantic chronic flood zones, an area routinely inundated by the lagoon’s brackish water during acqua alta, or periods of exceptionally high tides.
But when Matteo Bisol’s family rediscovered the indigenous Dorona di Venezia—a grape long thought to be extinct—growing on an island in the lagoon, it never crossed his mind to replant it anywhere but in its salty native soil. “The water, the canals, the lagoon—all the things that tourists love—these are things that make our terroir unique,” Bisol says. Instead, he and his father began seeking out the right location in which to resurrect not only the Dorona grape, but a centuries-old winemaking tradition that was all but wiped out in the middle of the last century.
The result is Venissa, a honey-hued, skin-contact wine that Bisol now produces from a small, two-acre vineyard on the island of Mazzorbo, a short 20-minute vaporetto ride from Venice proper. The name fronts both the wine itself and a property that includes a minimalist-chic six-room guesthouse and a Michelin-starred restaurant. Nearly a decade after the release of its first vintage, Venissa’s squat, distinctive 500-milliliter bottles pressed with gold leaf labels enjoy an enthusiastic, cultish fan base. And for good reason: It’s a wine that happened more or less by accident, and one that could someday disappear once again… keep reading