Angelo Peretti might well be considered the wine ambassador of the Veneto region.
Born in Garda, the small village that gave its name to Italy’s largest lake, Peretti is a true Renaissance man with a deep appreciation of the history, culture, foods, and wines of his birthplace.
He speaks and writes about Veneto with a passion and exuberance that is steeped in scholarship and experience.
Multiple, seemingly diverse, career paths led Peretti to his current role as a consultant to the Chiaretto and Bardolino wine consortium. Working with them, he helps develop strategies to promote the quality and name recognition of these regional wines.
One of his first jobs was in the field of finance. After that, he became a prolific author and journalist writing dozens of books about Italian foods and wines. Peretti is also the publisher and editor of an online wine magazine, The Internet Gourmet.
Veneto, the eighth largest of Italy’s 20 regions, is often overshadowed by its spectacular capital city, Venice. That isn’t surprising. Venice is undoubtedly one of the most unique, picturesque and, as a result, most-touristed destinations in the world.
However, the broader Veneto region nestled in northeast Italy—-which includes the captivating cities of Verona and Asolo, the scenic Dolomites, and breathtaking Lake Garda—is garnering attention not only for its cultural riches and natural beauty but also for the improved quality and growing popularity of its wines. Peretti has been at the forefront, aiding and abetting that effort.
Veneto is the largest producer of wines in Italy, accounting for an estimated one-quarter of all wine production in the country. The most popular Veneto wines include whites (Soave), reds (Valpolicella and Amarone), and Prosecco.
What lured Peretti from banking to the world of foods and wines?
“If you are curious about life, you have to be curious about wine and food,” he says. “They are the best metaphors for life created by human beings.”
Forbes.com spoke to Peretti to learn more about the Bardolino wine region in Veneto:
Where is the Bardolino wine region?
Angelo Peretti: The Bardolino wine appellation lies on the eastern shore of Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake (located in the province of Verona).
Due to its Mediterranean climate and the beauty of the lake, the area is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. Each year, more than three million people spend their holidays on the eastern shore of the lake (in the Bardolino wine region).
Most visitors are from Germany, The Netherlands, Scandinavia and Great Britain. But less than two hours by car from Venice and Milan, Lake Garda also draws visitors from other Italian cities.
What efforts have you and the consortium made to improve the quality of Bardolino wines?
AP: In the 1960s and 1970s, Bardolino wines had a bad reputation because quantity was valued more than quality. But this didn’t have to be the case.
The climate and soils around Lake Garda provide an ideal environment for growing Corvina grapes (an indigenous grape grown only in the province of Verona). The temperate climate allows the grapes to reach complete ripeness while preserving freshness.
The morainic soil, created in ancient times by the same glaciers that shaped Lake Garda, are composed of more than sixty different kinds of soil and mineral salts, giving the wines intriguing minerality and salinity.
These conditions are perfect for producing very refreshing but “serious” rosé wines (Chiaretto di Bardolino), wines that are light and age well—as well as very gastronomic reds (Bardolino and its crus), which are often compared to the wines of the Beaujolais and Bourgogne regions of France.
In 1825, three crus were identified within the Bardolino wine region. The red wines coming from these crus were so renowned that they were exported to Switzerland and sold in the restaurants of some of the most important Grand Hotels of the time. However, after World War II, the crus were abandoned due to the increased demand for the wines.
Between 2002 and 2004, the Consorzio di Tutela Chiaretto e Bardolino conducted an ambitious research project to identify and promote the ancient crus.
Officially recognized by the Italian Government in 2021, the three subzones within the Bardolino appellation are La Rocca, Montebaldo, and Sommacampagna. The red wines coming from these crus have the same lightness and brightness, but different characteristics due to the different microclimates, altitude and soils of the three districts.
What about the rosés of the region?
AP: The Bardolino appellation is also famous for the production of Chiaretto di Bardolino.
Chiaretto is the local name for rosé. The word means “light in color” and is of Roman origin. When the Romans conquered Lake Garda more than 2,000 years ago, they developed viticulture and introduced the winepress.
The press doesn’t allow the maceration of the grape juice with the skins, thus producing wines that are very light in color. Their Latin name was Vinum Clarum (light in color wine), then they were called Claretum during the medieval times, and then Chiaretto in the 18th century.
Currently, Chiaretto di Bardolino is the leading Italian rosé, with more than 10 million bottles sold yearly.
How can visitors to the region taste and learn more about Bardolino wines?
AP: The Bardolino wine region has a self-paced, self-guided wine route (Strada Del Vino Bardolino DOC) that includes dozens of wineries.
Most of these wineries offer guided tours, tastings, and opportunities to purchase the wines from on-site wine shops and cellars. More importantly, wine tourists have opportunities to interact with local producers and ask questions.
The wine route website enables visitors to find all the wineries and offers contact information to arrange a visit. Some of the wineries also hold special events like dinners in the vineyard.
Visitors will find that the wines of the Veneto region are a “democratic luxury.” They represent “luxury” because they are so deeply rooted in history and culture, and they are “democratic” because they are affordable.
What are some of your favorite eateries in the area?
AP: As a food lover, I have many favorites but these are a few:
Il Giardino delle Esperidi is an intimate and lovely restaurant in the center of the village of Bardolino. It offers a refined menu of regional cuisine as well as an excellent wine list. Sommelier Susy Tezzon is a great Champagne connoisseur and the whole staff is made up of women.
The Michelin-starred Ristorante Oseleta, in the five-star Villa Cordevigo offers an elegant setting with amazing cuisine. The villa is an ancient palace in the heart of the Montebaldo Cru. Chef Marco Marras helms the kitchen.
Should a visitor want to immerse themselves in the history of the popular tradition of the osterie in the town of Verona, I highly recommend Osteria Monte Baldo. It’s been there since 1909, and is located very close to the central Piazza Erbe square. Literally, the Italian word osterie means wine bars, but in the local culture of Verona they are places for socializing, where you can meet other people in order to have fun and engage in discussions over wine—always accompanied by food (especially small sandwiches with lots of different seasonings).
Can you recommend any memorable accommodations as a base for guests touring the region?
AP: For visitors to Lake Garda, the Villa Cordevigo Wine Relais in Cavaion Veronese (mentioned above) makes for a memorable stay. The restored ancient palace has wonderful suites, surrounded by organic vineyards.
The wines labeled Villa Cordevigo are among the most interesting ones in the area. I highly recommend the Chiaretto di Bardolino Gaudenzia, aged more than a year on its lees before release.
Anything else to add about wine tourism in Veneto?
AP: Jacques Le Goff, a famous French historian, used to say that if you want to understand the history of a country you have to study documents and monuments. Monuments are the tangible witnesses of the lives of our ancestors, who couldn’t write documents.
Wine and food are two of the main monuments of the material culture of a country, and Italy is very, very rich in terms of both. I have always been very curious about this material culture, and even after studying it for more than forty years, I’m still making new discoveries.
Note: This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.