Traveling to Trentino: Pinot Grigio Country

Pinot Grigio's geographical origins and what makes it such a versatile food wine.

(Photo: Flickr/Andrea Ciambra/CC4.0)

Italy has an almost mystical allure, drawing travelers from around the world. These modern-day explorers arrive hungry to experience the planet’s most famous food and wine country.

Pinot Grigio grapes come from Trentino-Alto Adige, a region in Northern Italy known for its spectacular mountains and fertile valleys near the border of Austria and Switzerland. The cooler area is ideal for growing grapes that develop lovely fruit characteristics and the just-right levels of acidity, which make Pinot Grigio such a versatile food wine.

Knowing the rich traditions that go into tending the vineyards helps make the wines even more enjoyable. Often, experts say wine is made in the vineyards and there are few places better to demonstrate that than in Italy. Many growers learn the art of pruning, training vines and other techniques from their father or their grandfather. The knowledge passed down through generations is updated with high-tech developments, bringing together the best of the old and new.

There’s nothing new about the stunning historic architecture in the beautiful villages throughout Trentino, where structures date back hundreds of years. Those thick, stone walls served a very practical purpose when first constructed, keeping buildings cool in the summer and warm in the winter. That principle still applies today.

Many visitors to this lovely region are drawn by the hiking trails and nearby skiing in the winter months. After a day on the slopes or exploring the mountains on foot, everybody heads inside to enjoy the satisfying signature dishes of the region – hearty game dishes and cured meats such as speck, a cousin to prosciutto – enjoyed with a glass of Pinot Grigio made in the region. The wine’s bright fruit and crisp acidity brings out the best in food.

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Here’s an interesting bit of geographical trivia about this part of Italy: Some residents speak German. That influence from the north accounts for some of the region’s hearty cuisine. Vibrantly seasoned sausages are another fine match for the food-friendliest white in the land, Italian Pinot Grigio. Let’s raise a glass and toast the original farm-to-table cuisine.