Exploring European Wines One Vineyard at a Time: Northern Italy Edition

written by Diana Maria Groom

If you are a wine lover, or wine-o as many of us are affectionately named, then you probably think like I do when planning a trip – a perfect opportunity to try new wines! Whether you are cruising down one of the famous waterways aboard your river cruise sipping wines from one country to the next or exploring local vineyards on a tour of Italy, wine tourism is a real thing – and I can’t blame those who travel for wine.

Are you ready to plan a trip to Europe to broaden your wine horizons? Then let’s get out of that American wine funk and try something new…and preferably Italian.

To blend or not to blend?

While we as Americans were raised on grape varietal-specific wine, this is not the case in the vast majority of the European wine scene. In America, we see Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and those names denote the grapes varietals themselves. Actually, in the United States, wine blends have a negative connotation as an inferior selection.

In Europe, however, we see Bordeaux, Champagne, Chianti, - fantastic wines - but what you don’t realize is that all of those aforementioned wines are blends! Yes, you heard correctly! They are internationally-ranked, old-world, cream of the crop wines, and they are blends. Europeans have been making wines for centuries longer than we have, and what they realized was that blends bring out the best tastes in each grape varietal individually.

The wine industry is starting to change. Blends are now growing in popularity in the U.S. market as more wine-lovers begin to expand their palates to the beauty blends have to offer.

Veneto Wine Region at Spada Vineyards
Cantina Spada vineyards in Veneto wine region of Italy

Best blend wines to try

What do you do with that knowledge when you prefer a good old-fashioned Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon? You start small. You try a non-typical European blend… an Italian blend is a great place to start. Selecting a bottle of wine from the Italian countryside will give you a blend that is usually less heavy and a “middle of the road” red when you compare them to the Côtes du Rhône reds or the east bank Bordeaux reds.

In my opinion, you must start in the Veneto Region of Italy. This area of Italy is the northeastern part stretching from the Dolomite Mountains to the Adriatic Sea. The Veneto region has it all: the city of Venice famed for its canals, the lovers’ city of Verona famous for being the setting of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, and the picturesque Lake Garda is known for its crystal clear water, nestled at the foot of the Alps.

The Veneto region isn’t just famous for its lake and cities, it is internationally ranked for its Amarone wines and its Valpolicella Ripasso wines. These two red blends are made regionally with the same three grapes: the Corvina, the Corvinone, and the Rondinella grapes. What makes a unique blend, however, is the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon. This is what Cantina Spada, located in the little town of San Pietro in Cariano, gives us: a lingering taste of home after a deliciously smooth red blend. Their El Cencio wine is known for its unique use of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, and it is the ideal gateway European blend for those of us still learning that single grape varietal wine doesn’t always denote world-class wine.

Cantina Spada, a family-owned winery in Veneto region of Italy

So if you find yourself in the Veneto region of Italy and you are ready to immerse yourself in a wine lovers’ paradise, Spada Winery is the perfect first stop. It is a beautiful, family-run vineyard that prides itself on its exceptional and flavorful blends, where you can sit back and enjoy conversation with the family that has run the winery for four generations. Book a customized private tour and learn about their wines in an intimate setting and explore their vineyards firsthand. Sit down with the wine producers at their table and sample their delicious wines. And most importantly, experience the other side of the Veneto region.

When you are ready to enjoy one of the best regions in Europe for wine, contact Endless Routes Travel, so Jennifer can make all of these dreams a reality!



Whether you are a wine novice or an oenophile with your own wine cellar, board one of hundreds of river cruises dedicated to Europe's most celebrated wine regions.  These wine-themed European sailings provide a unique and delicious dimension to already enticing itineraries—with enhanced epicurean experiences included in the price of the cruise. 

About the Author

Diana Maria Groom is a first-generation American, born to Cuban parents. She is first and foremost a military spouse and mother to three children and currently resides in England, and previously in Germany where she has been stationed with her husband in the Air Force. She recently earned her introductory certificate in Wine Tasting and Sensory Techniques for Wine Analysis from UC Davis and is currently completing Level Two Sommelier Certification. Diana plans all of her European travel with wine tourism at the forefront!

diana groom holding wine glass