Golden Wine From a Forgotten Grape on an Island Near Venice

A leading prosecco producer revives an ancient variety in the Venice lagoon
Roger Morris

The label on a vintage Dorona bottle is stunning — baked-on gold leaf, a few etched words, nothing more.

The original settlement of Venice took place in the isles of its northern lagoon when tribes from the shore cities, such as Altino, fled the invading Huns in the fifth century. They put down agricultural roots, but fresh-water malaria from the Piave River — long since diverted away from the lagoon — caused them to flee again to the salt-water confines of what is now the city of Venice, about five miles away.

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A chance discovery of an ancient grapevine caused the Bisol family from the hills of Valdobbiadene, quality prosecco producers, to found the first Venice vineyard since ancient times on one of these original islands, Mazzorbo, which connects by walking bridge to the tourist-friendly island of Burano. They called the estate "Venissa," and today an elegant restaurant and small guest house make Venissa an ideal place for those seeking isolation or a quiet launching pad for exploring Venice.

The Bisols invited me to Venissa recently to savor the ambience and to taste the first two vintages of Dorona — the resurrected golden grape and the wine made from it which the family owns exclusively.

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