The best wines from Lake Garda

With its mellow climate, the Italian Lakes region produces all kinds of glorious produce, including olives, arborio risotto rice from Verona, Gorgonzola from Milan, and not least wine. Whether you prefer red, white or sparkling, our local experts guide you through finding the best on your holiday to Lake Garda
Varenna town at the lake Como, Italy. Photo: Shutterstock
Varenna town at the lake Como, Italy. Photo: Shutterstock

Whether you are a true aficionado or simply want a few bottles to take home, head for the hills of eastern Garda, recommends our local expert for Italy, Teresa. Here you will find some of Italy’s finest wines... 

Don't forget, when you're ready to book your own holiday to sample these for yourself, our trips to Italy are completely customisable: if you like the look of one itinerary but want to add a stop at any of the places listed below our local experts have it covered. Simply select the trip you'd like to take and modify the itinerary. Alternatively, get in touch with our local experts today to plan your holiday from scratch.

Custoza, Soave and Bardolino 

There is a cluster of well-known wine varieties around the southeastern corner of Lake Garda. The sheltered climate, sunshine and rich, well-irrigated soil produce perfect grape-growing conditions.

Custoza, to the south, produces soft, dry, intense and slightly bitter white (bianco) wines from grapes including Trebbiano Toscano, Garganega, Tocai Friulano, Malvasia Toscana, Riesling Italico and Cortese.

To the east of Verona, the rolling hills of Soave produce popular white wines, based mainly on Garganega grapes, popular as easy drinking across the world. Look out, too, for spumante (sparkling) and dessert wines.

Along the shore of the lake and the Adige River, you'll find Bardolino wines. The growers claim the success of the mainly full-bodied reds (rosso) is due to Saint Zeno, who taught their ancestors to cultivate the grapes. His face is on many bottles. The wine is typically blended using Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and Negrara grapes and comes in classico, novello and superiore. The chiaretto is a rosé, young and fresh with overtones of peach and apricot.

Experience Lake Garda for yourself on Insight Guides' Enchanting Italian Lakes trip, which tours the area's most popular towns and villages. 

Classic red wines

Valpolicella, east of the Adige River, means 'valley of many cellars'. The classic reds produced here are some of Italy’s most famous, created from Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella grapes. A fruity, medium-weight wine, Valpolicella is usually drunk at about three years. Amarone-Valpolicella is made using sun-dried grapes aged in toasted oak to produce a deep-coloured, dry, fruity wine with flavours of liquorice and vanilla, tobacco and fig. It can be drunk young but will age for up to 20 years. Recioto is a sweet dessert version.

North of Valpolicella, the wines take on the lighter, more perfumed characteristics of German wines. In Treforti, the local wine is the robust red L’Enantio, but the international success story is the fruity, elegant white Pinot Grigio.

Spend Day 10 of our Grand Tour of Northern Italy holiday exploring Valpolicella and its wonderful wines. 

The best place for wine-tasting

A number of wineries offer tastings, but the best place to start is at the Zeni Museo del Vino (Bardolino; mid-Mar–Oct, daily), a vineyard that has been in the family since 1870. It offers explanations of local wines, production methods, and tastings. 

Speak to local expert Teresa today about adding a stop at Zeni Museo del Vino to one of her ready-made trips to Italy

Taking a holiday to Lake Garda: how to get started

Insight Guides can help you with planning, organising and booking your trip to Lake Garda. Simply, get in touch and share your budget, interests and travel style. Our local experts will create an itinerary exclusive to you and your requirements, which you can amend until it's just right. Alternatively, browse and modify ready-made holidays to create your dream trip today. 

This article was originally published on May 22nd, 2013.