It may be Italy’s smallest region, but don’t let its size fool you – this picturesque hot spot is bursting at the seams with sights to explore and experiences to dive right into. And just like any of Italy’s nooks and crannies, Aosta Valley, or Valle d’Aosta, is home to some of the world’s most succulent wines that any connoisseur would happily travel the globe to find. Located in the heart of the Alps, it may not seem like an ideal place for grape growing, but its continental climate provides just the right conditions. With warm, sunny days that are perfect for cultivating grapes, vineyards are planted on terraced slopes that overlook the valley and face the sun. The result of this unique combination of climate and terrain? Some of the most delicious and distinctive wines in all of Italy.

Discover Aosta Valley

By far the tiniest producer of wine in Italy, the region of Aosta Valley sits right on the border of France and Switzerland and is surrounded by the four highest mountain peaks in the “Rome of the Alps” – Mont Blanc, Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and the Gran Paradiso. With terrain entirely covered in centuries-old and indigenous varieties of grapes, it flies particularly quietly under the radar for a place that has so much to offer in terms of culture, scenery, and of course, wine and food. And despite its handy geographical location, wine lovers are only just beginning to scratch the surface of what thirst-quenching delicacies it holds within its confines.

While there is little space for agriculture, Aosta Valley is somewhat of a bustling metropolis during the winter season with plenty to do in the outdoors. From skiing Courmayeur, Pila, Chamois and Breuil-Cervinia, to hiking Tour Du Mont Blanc and experiencing the true beauty of its glass blue lakes, towering waterfalls and breathtaking views, there’s something for everyone. In the slightly warmer months between May and October, visitors have the opportunity to see these sights in a whole new light, and they’re just as jaw-dropping.

Then there’s the thriving wine culture. When it comes to the production of wine, there are about 13 different varieties produced by about 400 local growers, but very few people will have had the luxury of being able to taste-test them. Only 1.2 million bottles are produced a year, and unlike lots of Italian wines, they are not distributed far and wide, and instead, are mainly consumed locally.

Origins And The French Connection

If you’ve travelled to Aosta Valley, you will have noticed that many of the street names are not in Italian, but in fact in French. Conversations between locals can tend to sound very similar in that sense, so if you’ve been left feeling a little confused, it’s only natural. While it does border France, it’s not part of it. But at the same time, because of France and Italy’s proximity to each other, as well as their history, a strong tie exists between the two. This is the case so much so that Aosta Valley locals are very much bilingual!

On the topic of history, Aosta Valley’s is incredibly rich. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Aosta became part of the Kingdom of Burgundy and was then ruled by the royal family of Italy, the House of Savoy, until the Italian unification in 1861. While it is uncertain whether Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Gamay were first introduced during the period of Burgundian control, many varieties are now grown and produced in Valle d’Aosta. However, there was a big push for farmers to grow Burgundian grapes after World War II, but it was later decided that native varieties of grapes were what gave Aosta Valley its edge and made it the region it was.

Exploring Valle D’Aosta Wines

Just like all produce, different varieties thrive in different climates, and that includes grapes. In Valle d’Aosta, centuries of experience and knowledge have been passed down through generations to determine the best way in which to plant and harvest grapes. As a result, each variety of wine is grown at varying heights along vines planted on pergolas and scattered along terrace slopes above the valley. It starts at the top where the drier white wines are grown from the heights of Morgex et La Salle, from 3000-4300 feet above sea level, followed by the Petit Rouge-based red wines from the central zone, Chambave to Enfer d’Arvier, at around 1600-2300 feet above sea level, and then lastly, the Nebbiolo-based red wines from Arnad-Montjovet and Donnas, which are grown at about 1000-1300 feet above sea level.

The viticultural area of Aosta Valley begins at the Donnas, which is near the border of Piedmont, and extends all the way across to Morgex which is located about an hour’s drive away from the French town of Chamonix. The region’s winemakers take great pride in their craft and are world-renowned for their exceptionally made, authentic wines. Among the most popular with locals and tourists alike are the high-altitude Nebbiolo wines, known locally as Picotendro or Picotene and produced by the cooperative Caves de Donnas. Other noteworthy wines include Nus Malvoisie (Pinot Grigio) from the commune of Nus, Petit Rouge-dominant wines from Chambave and Torrette, Fumin, Cornalin, as well as the crisp white wines of Petite Arvine and bright and the mineral Prié Blanc from Morgex and La Salle.

Valle D’Aosta Wineries

Now that we’ve covered all there is to know about the history of Aosta Valley, the types of wines that are grown in this corner of the world, and got a picture of what makes a hidden gem like this so special, the next step, naturally, is to explore all of the amazing wineries that you can visit while you’re there. We’ve put together a list of the best of the best so you can take your time traversing this land that produces some of the top wines in the world.


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