Like many special stories, that of Venissa is the product of chance and a little passion. In 2002, Gianluca Bisol noticed an old vine in a private garden on the island of Torcello and, intrigued, convinced the owners to send him some grapes once they had ripened. Some time later boxes of beautiful fruit, with thick skin and of a bright gold colour, were delivered to him. They would turn out to be Dorona, the native white grape variety of Venice, which has adapted to high waters and to the very special microclimate of the lagoon and which had practically disappeared during the flood of 1966.
Not satisfied with this random and incredible discovery, Bisol decided to search – with the help of agronomists and connoisseurs of the lagoon – for other specimens of Dorona and managed to identify 88 of them, scattered throughout the gardens and vineyards of Venice. He used some of the grapes to experiment with micro-vinification, and began to cultivate the idea of replanting this unique grape variety.
Thus, the project of bringing viticulture back to the lagoon began to take shape, reactivating knowledge and practices that have their roots in the millennial history of Venice and that were still widespread across many islands – especially in Native Venice (Torcello, Burano, Mazzorbo) – in the mid-1960s.
A few years later he found the perfect place to bring this dream to life: the Scarpa Volo estate, an ancient walled vineyard and cellar that had been in use until the flood of 1966. Here the Bisol family planted 4000 Dorona plants (on an area covering less than one hectare) for the micro-production of a white wine that was distinctly of the lagoon. To do this, winemakers Roberto Cipresso and Desiderio Bisol looked to the past – reviving the long maceration on the skins that is typical of traditional winemaking methods – and gave life to a long-lasting white with unique minerality and flavour and the body and structure of a red.
The first vintage of the Bianco Venissa is dated 2010. Since then, about 3000 numbered bottles have been produced every year, and they are a passionate tribute to three local traditions: wine, glass and gold leaf. Following its third harvest it was already rated as the best white of 2016, according to the international ranking drawn up annually by Vinepair.
Venissa embraces a philosophy of natural viticulture, to favour biodiversity and a spontaneously balanced ecosystem, with as little human intervention as possible. The Mazzorbo vineyard is almost completely submerged every two or three years by high water: a risk to the entire project that gives these grapes particular character.