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October 11, 2023

Glass, Gold & Wine: Visiting the Dorona Vineyards near Venice, Italy

private Venice toursFor centuries, the islands in the northern reaches of the Venetian Lagoon in Italy have been outposts of traditional Venetian arts and culture.

private Venice toursA short boat ride from Venice through the tranquil salt marshes transports travelers to the renowned glassblowers on Murano, lacemakers on Burano, ancient mosaics on Torcello and vineyards on Mazzorbo.

One of our favorite private day excursions in the Venetian Lagoon is to the lesser-known island of Mazzorbo for an exclusive wine tasting.

private Venice toursHere, the Venissa wine estate cultivates the rare, indigenous Dorona di Venezia grape. Mazzorbo is one of the only places in the world where this variety—whose deep golden wine was once prized by the Doges of Venice—is produced.

A private vineyard tour, gourmet lunch and exclusive tasting of Venissa’s acclaimed Dorona wine is ideal for wine enthusiasts and any travelers interested in history, artisan crafts and culinary touring.

private Venice tours

Connected to the more famous island of Burano by a wooden footbridge, Mazzorbo has a quiet, rural atmosphere that feels worlds away from St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge. Founded in the seventh century, Mazzorbo was one of the earliest settlements in the lagoon and once played an integral role in the area’s maritime trade with the wider Mediterranean.

The island’s population declined over the centuries as families relocated to the city of Venice; today, it’s a peaceful, agrarian enclave of vineyards, artichoke fields and orchards just 25 minutes by private boat from Venice. In recent years, Venissa’s two-acre vineyard on Mazzorbo has revived the island’s prized Dorona grapes that were thought to have been lost entirely after the disastrous 1966 floods that wiped out thousands of years of traditional Venetian winemaking on the islands.

Enclosed by medieval walls and overlooked by a 14th-century belltower that was once part of a monastery, the vineyard is in an enchanting but uniquely challenging setting, where saltwater lies just below the roots, and the notorious acqua alta (high tide) causes flooding in the winter months.

The small size of the vineyard and the island setting mean Venissa produces only around 3,500 to 4,000 bottles of their acclaimed Dorona wine a year, making it a highly sought-after label by wine connoisseurs.

Traditional Venetian winemaking methods, such as a long maceration process of the juice, together with the skins, seeds and stems (usually a red-wine-making technique), result in a rich, golden-colored wine whose hints of honey and salt reflect its unique terroir.

Befitting the brand’s exclusivity, Venissa’s Dorona wine comes in exquisite, individually numbered bottles that celebrate a combination of traditional Venetian crafts: glass, gold and wine. Hand-blown by master glass artisans on the nearby island of Murano, the wine bottles are works of art that feature gold leaf labels handcrafted by a renowned goldbeater in the Cannaregio district of Venice.

The golden labels feature a different design every year, making them collector’s items for their artistry as much as for their contents. For interested travelers, we can also arrange an exclusive visit to the goldbeater’s workshop. 

We arrange for our travelers to privately tour the vineyard and learn about the history of the Dorona grape (thought to have been cultivated in the area since the time of ancient Rome), its unique viticulture and Venissa’s dedication to preserving the local agricultural traditions that flourished here in the Middle Ages.

Venissa has two restaurants, an open-air casual osteria and a Michelin-starred restaurant featuring seasonal produce from their own gardens on Mazzorbo or nearby Sant’ Erasmo Island.

Wine tasting on Mazzorbo is an ideal complement to other experiences we arrange in the Venetian Lagoon, including private transfers by luxury boat, a private glassblowing demonstration and personal shopping on Murano, visiting lacemakers and browsing high-quality textiles on Burano and touring the ancient settlement and Byzantine mosaics on Torcello.

Contact Artisans of Leisure to begin planning a luxury Italy tour that features Venice, the islands in the Venetian Lagoon and tasting Dorona wine.

Destinations:  Europe, Italy

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