Recently my husband was lucky enough to go to the Ardesio DiVino wine festival thanks to a competition win. This post is written by him based on his experiences.
What could be better on a summer’s day than to sit outside and share a glass of wine with friends? Well, for sale why not throw in spectacular Alpine scenery and some traditional Italian food? And why restrict yourself to just one glass, mind when you could sample from hundreds of the best that Italy has to offer? In fact, why not do all that, without having to give your wallet a hangover?
Less than 2 hours on RyanAir from Stansted takes you to Begamo in the shadow of the Alps in Northern Italy. A 40 minute drive up into the stunning mountain scenery brings you to the small, picturesque town of Ardesio. Normally a haven for mountain hikers, on the 1st weekend of August the town plays host to an annual wine festival, Ardesio DiVino.
This year, the festival’s 12th, saw 38 producers set up stalls in the winding streets and historic courtyards. They are mostly small, often family run vineyards, making sometimes just a few thousand bottles a year. Each is only too happy to talk (often in varying degrees of broken English) about the wines they make, what gives each one its own unique character and to share their passion. And though these are small businesses, there is no shortage of quality as the smattering of international wine awards (and my own taste buds) can confirm.
Now, I’m no wine expert. Though I know a lot more now than before I went. So if you don’t know your Spumante from your Frizzante, then fear not. Ardesio DiVino is not a cliquey get-together for the wine elite. Of the 3,000 or so visitors, many are locals who come just to enjoy some good wine in the celebratory atmosphere (which extends on the Saturday night to a big party with live music in the town square). There are also craft stalls and a dedicated food festival section to tickle any taste buds that the wine hasn’t reached.
Entry to the festival costs 20 euros per person per day. For that you get your own glass, a map to navigate around the stalls dotted through the town and the chance to sample at least 2 different wines from each producer. And by sample, I mean a generous taster portion that will give you chance to appreciate more than a few brief sips while you channel your inner wine critic. And there will be plenty left in the glass for you to check out your friends’ selections too.
Make sure to take some water with you, to keep hydrated. And a pen is handy too; with so many wines to try, it can be hard to remember where those favourites were, so it’s useful to make a few notes as you go. Especially since, with most bottles selling for comfortably under 10 Euros, you will definitely be wanting to bring some back home. The only decision harder than which wines to buy, is whether you can get one more in your suitcase without having to pay excess baggage.