Nestled high up on a hill above Lake Levico (one of the prettiest lakes in Italy) is a small family-run winery with a back story that will warm your heart. When the parents of two local brothers, Andrea and Giorgio Romanese, passed away, they were left with broken hearts and a small vineyard. Their father Paolo had inherited the winery from his uncle, Guido Martinelli, who had been running it as a winery since 1860 – despite a few years when the winery and farm was occupied by German troops during the war.
When their father passed away, they decided to set up Cantina Romanese Winery in picturesque Levico Terme in honour of their parents.
This is only where the inspirational story behind Cantina Romanese begins. The brothers wanted to set themselves apart from the other wineries in the Trentino region, of which combined they produce 900 million bottles of Trentodoc sparkling wine each year. So, how does a small, family run winery set themselves apart in a part of Italy famous for their wines?
“Wine is not just about the taste. It’s about the story behind the wine.”
– Giorgio Romanese
Cantina Romanese is one of the only wineries in the world that uses the technique of storing and ageing their wines at the bottom of a lake. It’s a method used by only a handful of wineries and involves storing cases of wine inside a steel crate 20 meters deep inside Lake Levico – the largest lake in Trentino besides Lake Garda.
Once the wine has finished its two-year storage period inside the lake, it is transferred to a local fort that sits at the very top of the hill overlooking Levico town. This is where the wine production process continues for another month before the bottles are brought to the winery for tastings and sales.
As unusual as this production process is, this isn’t where the story of Cantina Romanese ends. Grab your tissues, because this story is a touching one.
Die to an injury during the war, Andrea and Giorgio Romaneses’ grandfather lost his sight at the age of 25. It was before his daughter Gabriella, Andrea and Giorgio’s mother, was born, so he never got to see what his daughter looked like.
When naming the wines and designing the labels for their winery, everything links back to the Romanese family. The chardonnay is named after their father while the rich red is named after their grandfather.
The rose, which is the last wine of the day we tasted, is named after their mother. The label on the bottle was designed by Giorgio and is a drawing of his recently passed mother.
The label is also embossed, in memory of his blind grandfather, so if anyone who has lost their sight visits the winery or buys this wine, they can trace the drawing of his mother on the label to know what she looked like, or least know what shape the drawing takes.
Wine Tasting in Levico Terme
Every evening Cantina Romanese offer wine tasting experiences in their pretty hillside winery, accompanied by cheese and cured meats to please the palate.
You can taste all 5 of their wines, including the one that is matured under Lake Levico. One of the owners will talk you through each wine, who it was named after and a background to the labels as well as the production process.
While just a small winery, they have produced over 14,000 bottles of Trentodoc and harvested over 140 tons of grapes – and there are bottles available to purchase should it tickle your fancy.
I’ve been to many countries, and I’ve tasted many wines. But no wine tasting experience has touched me quite like the inspiring story behind Cantina Romanese.
As Giorgio said to us as we were leaving, “Wine is not just about the taste. It’s about the story behind the wine.”
NOTE: Special thanks to Visit Trentino and Visit Valsugana for organising this visit.