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Valpolicella, Italy
Europe | Italy | Wine

Ants Collection Reserve
Where: Veneto region, Italy
Trip purpose:
- Visit wineries, wine tasting
- Birthpalce of Amarone wine
- Close to Verona and lake Garda
- Driving distance to Venice or Milan
- Depends if you like Amarone and ripasso wine
"Corvina grapes"

Why visit Valpolicella in Italy?

Have you ever tried or heard of Amarone or Ripasso wines? These wines are produced in Valpolicella region. The technology of these wines is unique and the wines are some of the most famous Italian wines. The Valpolicella region is close to Verona and in a driving distances from Venice (Venezia) and Milan (Milano). It can be a good day trip if you stay in Verona, Venice or Milan.

Where in the world?

"Valpolicella on a map"
Valpolicella on OpenStreetMap


Valpolicella area is in the northern Italy, in Veneto region, just 30 minutes north of Verona, on the east side of the lake Garda (Lago di Garda). It is approximately in the middle between Milan and Venice. It takes about 2 hours from Milan and 2 -2.5 hours driving from Venice.

Getting there

The closest larger cities that are commonly visited by tourists are Milan and Venice. If you stay in those cities you can do a day trip to Valpolicella. However, the closest city to Valpolicella is Verona, which is a sightseeing attraction on its own. Therefore, if you have time and desire to see Verona we would recommend staying there and do a day trip to Valpolicella from Verona. There is also another tourist attraction close to Verona - Lake Garda. There are international airports in Milan (MXP) and Venice (VCE) with direct flights from many international hubs. You can also fly to Verona. There is an international airport Villafranca (VRN) which connects the city with Italian and several international cities. The flight takes about 1 hour from Rome. If you travel from Milan or Venice, either train or renting a car will work. Renting a car may be a bit painful for parking but you can explore many beautiful spots in the northern Italy.

The best and safest way to enjoy wine tasting in Valpolicella is to book a day trip. The tours are available from Milan, Verona and Venice. We booked our trip from Verona on but there are many other sites that offer bookings. We found that quality of the tour is more dependent on the provider, rather than a booking portal, although some sites are stricter for quality selection. We usually stick to well known sites and read reviews. Both, small group and private tours were available at the time. Private drivers may not be knowledgeable in wine making but they bring you to the wineries that can take of you.


"European type plug"
European type plug

220 Volts 60 Hz, European plug


Italian, but many staff and all guides speak English.



Vaccination and infections

According to CDC no vaccination is required in addition to the routine vaccination established in most countries (subject to your country of origin and your personal vaccination). Hepatitis vaccine is recommended. There is NO risk of malaria in the country. Prevent yourself from insect bites to avoid insect transmitted infections. Some parts of Italy are endemic for Lyme and other tick born diseases. Please see updated information for health at CDC site or health authority in your country.


Italy is in the European Schengen zone. Lists of countries citizens of which need and do not need visa to enter Schengen zone are here.

When to go?

Weather averages, Verona

You can do wine tasting all year around, but the scenery is nicer in spring-summer-fall. Autumn brings harvest time between mid-September and mid-October.


"Wine cellar in Valpolicella"
A cellar in Valpolicella
"High vine trellising"
High vine trellising
"Valpolicella wines in a restaurant in Verona"
Valpolicella wines in a restaurant in Verona
"Verona at night"
Verona at night

Valpolicella wines are red wines. There are three main grape varieties: Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara. Corvina is the predominant grape. Several wine styles are produced in the area which can be divided into two groups: conventional wine and wine produced from semi-dried grapes (appassimento style). The conventional wine can be either in nouveau style or higher quality Valpolicella Classico. The wines made of dried grapes or a combination are: Amarone, Ripasso and Recioto.

"Valpolicella grapes"
Display of Valpolicella grapes

Valpolicella Classico

This wine is produced in the "classico" region. The higher grade is Calssico Superiore. We were not familiar with this wine before we visited the area, and were pleasantly surprised. Valpolicella Classico is a lighter wine and is totally different from Amarone and Ripasso. Approach it as you would approach Chianti or Barolo.


This sweet red dessert wine is the historical wine style for the region. The technology dates back to the ancient Greeks. The name recioto comes from "recie" meaning ears, or top parts of grape clusters that appear as "ears". The "ears" are exposed to sunlight and ripe faster. These ripe grapes were picked separately and used to make rich sweet wines. Later the method evolved to include the whole grape clusters. The grapes are taken to special drying rooms where they dry and the juice inside the grapes becomes concentrated. The process of grape drying is also called appassimento. While recioto wine is sweet, it can be left to ferment completely dry. This dry wine is the Amarone wine.


Amarone wine put Valpolicella wines on wine shelves throughout the World. Amarone is one of the most known Italian wines. Dry recioto wines have been known in the region for centuries, but they were not regularly left to ferment dry intentionally. The modern Amarone wine as a commercial venture was born in the 1950s. Bolla and Bertani produced first vintages in 1953. "Amarone" translates "the Great Bitter", as the name differentiates it from the sweet recioto. DOC status for Amarone was given in 1990 and DOCG in 2009.

Amarone is a newer style wine and has been unique in the wine world, until some producers started experimenting with other grapes. It is high in alcohol, full-bodied and raisin-like tasting wine. All that concentrated sugar is converted into alcohol. The minimum legal alcohol content is 14% but it is commonly over 15%. Grapes for Amarone are the last grapes to be harvested, in October. Although the grapes are harvested late the growth of Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot like in Sauternes wines is avoided. Amarone is a different style and philosophy. It a "clean" drying process. After the harvest the grapes are left to dry in special rooms for 3 to 4 months. Up to 40% of weight is lost in the grapes due to water evaporation. Then Amarone is aged, initially in oak barrels, then in bottles. The barrels used are usually older, with less "woody" impact on the wine, although this depends on a producer. Amarone has to be aged for at least 5 years. We found that the wines can be aged for much longer. We aim at 8 - 10 years or longer when we open a bottle.

Amarone is the richest non-fortified wine. The alcohol and richness is sometimes compared to Port wines. As expected, the flavors include dark chocolate, raisin and other dried fruits. Amarone can be enjoyed on its own or with rich meaty meals.


Ripasso is the latest "re-invention". The first commercial ripasso wine was introduced by Masi in the 1980s. Initially it was even debated if the wine should have an official recognition and regulation. Ripasso means "repassed", when the leftover pomace of the grapes used for Amarone or recioto are added to the regular Valpolicella wine. The pomace introduces additional sugar for renewed fermentation. It also introduces Amarone type flavors. The technology is very efficient as there is no waste. The efficiency is even higher when the final leftovers are used for grappa production.

Ripasso wine is lighter than Amarone but has the unique flavors of dried appassimento grapes. Frankly, we feel that this wine is better suited for meals as Amarone may bee too powerful.


Grappa was also officially born in the northern Italy. It is a distilled product similar to the base distillate of brandy. Most grappas are not aged in oak and consumed as a clean distillate. Valpolicella region produces Amarone grappa with a specific rich flavor.

As always, we have no affiliation with any booking companies or resorts. We simply share our experience and opinions.