L’Orto di Venezia is one of the very few wineries in Venice, where wine is actually produced, a peculiarity that in itself makes it definitely worth a visit. Located in a suggestive farmhouse on the island of Sant’Erasmo from which you can enjoy a superb view of the lagoon, here it is produced a truly remarkable wine created by Michel Thoulouze, a French businessman who has risen to the honors of worldwide news for having founded and directed various television channels, including Canal Plus.
The 18,000 bottles of Orto wine produced per year can be found in some of the best restaurants in the world: just to make an example, it is the only Italian wine, off the menu, in Alain Ducasse’s Parisian restaurant at the Hotel Plaza Athénée.
Monsieur Thoulouze, at the end of the 90s, during a tour of the lagoon while waiting for a delayed flight, fell in love with an old farmhouse with a splendid view. He decided to buy it and, intrigued by the local farmers who told him that there were many vineyards here in the 16th century, he invited his friends Lydia and Claude Bourguignon, the latter being the agronomist of the Romanée Conti winery in Burgundy (famous for producing the most precious wine in the world) and Alain Graillot, wine producer guru of Crozes-Ermitage, to see his land. They confirmed the great potential of the terroir for making a good wine.
With their support, he started a long work of requalification of the land that was prepared with barley, radish, oats and Chinese root, without ever giving a plow or using any chemical, in order not to compromise the delicate surface layer of the ground, rich in precious elements.
Finally in 2006, after almost 10 years of work, using only ancient manual natural methods, the first harvest of Orto was made. The white wine, characterized by a great minerality, is made of 60% Istrian Malvasia, mixed with 30% of Vermentino and 10% of Fiano. The original aroma resulting from a terroir rich in clay, limestone and shells, the straightforward and persistent taste resulting from the aging of 4/5 years and the sparkling golden transparency are among the elements that make Orto so special.
The winery, beautiful to visit in the late afternoon in order to enjoy the wonderful light on the Lagoon at sunset, has been renovated keeping its original flavor intact. Sophisticated details emerge here and there, such as the coats of arms with the logo of Orto that was added to that of the ancient manor house (which is the tallest building in the lagoon even if it has only three floors, ironically), the gazebo with the white wrought iron chairs, the rows of industrial bulb lights pulled between the buildings.
The winery can be reached by boat or by vaporetto n.13 from Cavallino Treporti (15 min) or from Venice Fondamenta Nuove (40 min), Capannone stop. About one km away you can also visit the famous Torre Massimiliana, called Austriaca, a nineteenth-century fortress, a protagonist of the Second World War, one of the numerous towers and war fortifications that characterize the lagoon area of Treporti. The booking of the tasting visit can be done through the website ortodivenezia.com.
Magnum bottles of Orto have also recently been on sale, produced in only 360 pieces. They are left to age for 5 years sunk in a sandolo, a traditional Venetian boat, in a secret point of the lagoon, where they are not subject to sudden changes in temperature and vibrations. C’est génial!