Venissa, the wine of Venice

(c) Mattia Mionetto

The Venissa Estate lies on Mazzorbo, one of the three islands of Native Venice, an archipelago of nature, colors, flavors, and art that also includes Burano and Torcello.

While accompanying several customers on a trip to Torcello, I noticed an old grapevine in a private garden beside the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. I managed to persuade the owner to send me some of the grapes when they had matured. The crates arrived full of lovely, thick-skinned grapes with a brilliant golden color. It was the famous Dorona, also known as the golden grape, well-loved by the Venetians and served during the banquets of the Doges and then lost to history.” – Gianluca Bisol. Venissa’s story began by chance and resulted in an incredible discovery: some of the very last grapevines in Venice, the final trace of a winegrowing culture that was destroyed by the flood of 1966.

(c) Mattia Mionetto

It is a winemaking story that goes back more than 2000 years to 1100, when vineyards could be found in Piazza San Marco but whose ultimate destiny was to be cut down to make space for the great Venetian palazzos that the world admires today. There were many islands in the Venetian Lagoon where wine was produced until fifty years ago, especially on the islands of Mazzorbo, Burano, and Torcello, otherwise known as Native Venice. The Dorona di Venezia is a native white-skinned variety that adapted well to the high waters and the particular conditions of this unique terroir, and Gianluca Bisol discovered 88 vine plants in 2002 in the gardens and remaining vineyards of Venice.

After the first microvinifications were carried out, Gianluca Bisol and his colleagues decided to replant the variety, which, in the lagoon, produces a nectar that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The ideal location turned out to be the island of Mazzorbo on the Scarpa Volo estate, which had been a walled vineyard and winery for centuries until the great flood of 1966. It is here that the Bisol family decided to replant 4000 vine plants of Dorona (less than 1 hectare) that produces just shy of 4000 bottles per year. Vinification is carried out by Desiderio Bisol and Roberto Cipresso, a renowned enologist with a passion for viticultural history. Cipresso calls for a long maceration on the skins, a practice once used by farmers, to obtain a white wine with the structure and longevity of a red. From the skins, the Venissa wine extracts the flavors and unique aromas typical of this inimitable terroir: notes of salt, honey, wormwood, and white peach.

Venissa has been a pioneer in bringing wine back to the lagoon, whose reputation is quickly spreading among international wine lovers as an ideal and unique place for viticulture. After Venissa came Rosso Venissa, a red wine produced from Merlot and Carmenere from a 50-year-old vineyard located on the island of Santa Cristina.

Both are wines that immediately drew the interest of wine connoisseurs. The first vintage of Rosso Venissa, the 2011 harvest, was awarded 93 points by the prestigious Italian Veronelli guide, while the 2010 vintage of Venissa was named one of the top 100 Italian wines by the highly respected Gatti Massobrio guide.