Age-old vineyards

The vineyards in Cinto Euganeo and in the Euganean Hills appear to have been tended since time immemorial, becoming the natural outcome of an age-old viticultural tradition.

The first populations to inhabit the Euganean Hills area used to drink a beverage made from fermented grape juice. Direct evidence of this can be found in archaeological excavations that have unearthed many botanical finds, about 200 whole grape seeds and more than 400 fragments. With the Paleo-Venetian Atestine civilisation (1200 BC), wine became a widely used drink, largely due to its attributed symbolic power. When the Romans arrived in the Euganean area, vines began to be cultivated and worked. Their juice became a very common and popular drink, and was almost always mixed with honey and spices.

In 1369, the poet Francesco Petrarch fell in love with the small village of Arquà in the Euganean Hills during his stay in Padua.

“I flee the city as a life imprisonment and choose to live in a small lonely village, in a pretty little house, surrounded by an olive grove and a vineyard, where I spend my days in total peace, far from turmoil, noise and business matters, and constantly read and write.”

Francesco Petrarch

Petrarch wrote these words in a letter to Francesco Bruni in 1371, announcing his move to Arquà, to a pretty house surrounded by an olive grove and a vineyard.

In the centuries that followed, wine was considered a precious and delicious drink. Made in the Euganean Hills, it was praised by the Venetian nobility and mentioned in many written works. The doctor and philosopher Andrea Bacci commented, “The wines of the Euganean Hills are strong and deceptive because the land is crossed by steam and sources of heat, and these facilitate the production of good grapes.” Due to its privileged geographical position with extensive slopes, allowing good exposure to the sun and proximity to thermal springs, the practice of winemaking in the Euganean Hills is widely known.

The journey of Carménère

The history of Carménère is as controversial as it is intriguing. It would seem that this grape variety was mainly grown in the Bordeaux area for use in typical blends of the local area.

Due to its low yield and difficulty in reaching full ripeness, the Carménère grape variety was not replanted after the phylloxera epidemic that affected Europe in the mid-19th century.

For a long time this grape variety was considered extinct, until several DNA tests performed in 1994 revealed otherwise. Carménère had travelled and, without any trace of its movements, had convinced growers and winemakers all over the world. To the great surprise of experts, this grape variety was found to be widespread in Chile, where it had been confused with Merlot, and in the north-eastern regions of Italy.

In the Veneto region, Carménère was long mistaken for an Italian variety of Cabernet Franc with its typical features of larger and sparser bunches, lower fertility and more intense aroma and colour.