When I arrived in the Franciacorta territory in the Province of Brescia in Northern Italy last spring a blanket of grey clouds cloaked the area and Lake Iseo. The forecast showed rain for three out of the four days I planned to explore the region. This dismal weather projection was a much-awaited weather event for the locals, especially the vintners, since they haven’t seen rain in months and they feared what the results of an ongoing drought will do to their grape yields. My purpose for visiting this region was to learn about what wine aficionados and sommeliers have been touting as Italy’s best-kept secret: Franciacorta sparkling wines. So, I tried to share the locals’ optimistic anticipation of rain.
When I arrived to my hotel nestled on the west shore of the stunning Lake Iseo, I imagined what a sunny day would do for the view of the emerald lake surrounded by mountains peppered with quaint villages. Instead, I embraced the steel-colored sky and low-hanging, dark clouds that made the surrounding rolling hills and the island in the middle of the lake, Monte Isola, look like a setting in an Umberto Eco novel. I had to admit, the drama felt romantic. Soon I would be sampling the region’s celebrated sparkling wine which I have been told rivals France’s Champagne, so the gloomy weather was no match for what lay ahead.
Once I dropped my bags off at Araba Fencie Hotel, which I would recommend only for its magnificent views of the lake, I headed to the first vineyard on my list, Castelveder Winery https://www.castelveder.it/it/. The drive was about 20 minutes to the small town of Monticelli Brusati where Castelveder is located. Situated on a slope and surrounded by rolling hills and the view of an old church under careful renovation, I was greeted by one of the owners, Camilla Alberti, granddaughter of the founders.
Town of Monticello Brusati in Franciacorta
“The Franciacorta method for all Franciacorta winemakers is the same, but the experience is different.”