Discover Lugana

Discover Lugana

A popular Italian proverb says: “Nelle botti piccole sta il vino buono,” which translates to "In small barrels, there is good wine.” This seems the perfect aphorism to describe Lugana, a wine territory that comprises just 1,200 acres of vineyards.

Situated in the southern coast of Lake Garda, on the border between two rich regions and two industrious cities – Lombardia and Veneto, Brescia and Verona – Lugana is now becoming more and more popular, after being discovered from white wine enthusiasts no more than couple of decades ago.

It all started with German tourists that have been spending their holidays on the nearby Lake Garda’s shores over the last decades. In search of rural treasures, they decided to pay a visit to this minor region and instantly fell in love with its amazing white wine. Local winemakers quickly started exporting to Germany. The unique taste of this wine and the entrepreneurial spirit of the locals have helped broadening the name of Lugana all over the world. Today, more than 70% of Lugana DOC wines are exported – mainly to Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Northern Europe, China, and Japan.

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Lugana is made mainly with a local grape varietal called Turbiana, a very old variety that is believed to have been selected through the centuries by local growers to adapt to the particular terroir of its morainic hills. There is even historical evidence of the wine production dating back to Roman times: the illustrious Roman poet Catullus praised the white wines of this region in his poems.

The name Lugana DOC (an Italian quality label) was created in 1967; it was among the first areas in Italy to give a name to a wine, while its “Consorzio di Tutela” (the consortium for protection) was created in 1990.

According to the DOC production rules, a wine can be labelled Lugana if produced with at least 90% of Turbiana grapes grown in the tiny registered Lugana wine-producing area. The DOC production rules authorize only certain varieties of Lugana. In addition to the traditional basic Lugana (consumed within Italy), Lugana Superiore (requires one year maturation), and Lugana Riserva (requires a minimum of two years maturation), there are two very interesting options: the Spumante and the Vendemmia Tardiva. The first one is a sparkling white wine sold in a very limited production, a rare nectar very appreciated by wine lovers. The second is the late harvest selection and is even rarer as it is produced by only three wineries.

Among its many qualities, there is a particular aspect of this wine that draws the attention of many wine experts: it is one of the few white wines that can age for quite a few years.

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If you are going to Lugana to visit its peaceful vineyards and enjoy exclusive wine tastings, don’t forget that there is a wealth of enchanting places to visit nearby.

The closest is Lake Garda, the gem of North Italy. The southeastern shore of the lake, only a mile away from Lugana, is dotted with its characteristic towns that boast ancient castles, medieval churches, and Venetian-style houses. Sirmione, a village of Roman origin that is beautifully situated on a narrow peninsula, is a visit you should not miss. Of great interest are also Lazise, Bardolino and Peschiera del Garda, a group of enchanting and elegant villages perched on the lakeshores. A stroll on their promenades will give you a taste of the trendy Italian “Bella Vita”, while a visit to the countryside brings you to other exclusive wine areas.

Only a 30-minute drive from Lugana lies Verona, the most romantic city in the world. Visit Romeo and Juliet’s balcony; the historic center, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; or book a ticket for the unique open-air lyric season in the Arena di Verona, the ancient amphitheaters built by the Romans.

Another nearby UNESCO site is the timeless historic city center of Mantua, a peaceful and elegant city also known as the “Sleeping Beauty.” The imposing Gonzaga castle, the amazing palaces and picturesque squares, all surrounded by an artificial lake, are exactly as they were centuries ago. Pay a visit to Mantua if you want to dive into the mild atmosphere of medieval times.

Finally, Cremona is another remarkable medieval city with a passion for music – and located one hour away from Lugana! It is the world capital of stringed-instrument making and the birthplace of the violin. Once there, do not forget to pay a visit to its astonishing violin museum and visit its marvelous city center before making your way back to the wine of Lugana.

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Salute e buon viaggio!

This article was guest written by Pietro Marco Fraccalvieri of Select Italy, an agency specializing in Italian travel.