Wines of Verona and the Dolomites

Posted on: 8th March, 2016

Category: The Wine Buff

Contributor: Tony Eklof

Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.

In early January, we flew to Verona and explored this fascinating city before travelling up into the Dolomite mountains. Verona is one of Italy’s most evocative cities with its famous Roman Arena, Arches and bridges spanning the River Adige not to mention churches with stunning Renaissance paintings and frescoes. All the more puzzling why the most visited tourist attraction is the Casa di Giulietta where thousands of visitors seem to conveniently forget the fact that Romeo and Juliet were fictional characters. Funny old world.

From Verona it is an easy train ride up on the Munich line to Bolzano, the capital of the fascinating Alto Adige region, also known as the South Tyrol, the preferred name among the majority German-speaking population. Reflecting the fact that this area was for centuries part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and only became part of Italy after WWI, most towns and cities have two names (Bolzano-Bozen and Bressanone-Brixen for example.) Both Bolzano and Bressanone make attractive holiday destinations, prosperous beautiful towns with the Dolomite mountains hovering around them. We particularly loved Bressanone high up and near the Austrian border. We took a cable car up Mount Plose for the spectacular views.

Wines from Verona are technically in the Veneto region. From Verona to the shores of Lake Garda we find the famous names of Amarone, Valpolicella and Bardolino. The latter two are light, cherry flavoured wines first cultivated by the Romans, while Amarone and Valpolicella Ripasso are much more powerful and full-bodied.

Hugh Johnson has pointed out that it is becoming more difficult to find Valpolicella because the typical grapes in the region are increasingly being reserved for the more expensive and profitable Amarone and Ripasso wines.

Wines grown in the valleys of the Dolomites where the mountains protect the vineyards from the damaging cold winds, are classified as Trentino-Alto Adige, one of the smallest and possibly the least known of Italy’s twenty wine regions. Here we find fine whites such as Gewurztraminer which are a great match for the German style cuisine, and robust reds made from unusual Lagrein or Schiava dark grapes.

I haven’t come across wines from the Alto Adige here but there are plenty of good examples of Veronese labels available, for example O’Brien’s Fine Wines carry a selection of both Valpolicella and Bardolino from the excellent growers Rizzardi while the Ripasso-style Campofiorin from Masi is widely available including from SuperValu where it’s due to go on sale, as I write.

The Duty Free at easy-to-negotiate Verona Airport is disappointing. Big wines like Chianti Classico, Barolo etc are surprisingly similar in price to what you would expect to pay in Ireland. However I did pick up a classic Bardolino and an unusual wine called Possessioni made from Sangiovese grapes not normally found in this region. Both wines are from the excellent Masi Agricola.

In summary, if you are looking for a beautiful and un-touristy part of Italy with mixed cultures and very reasonably priced and unique wines, the Italian South Tyrol could be for you.

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11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at or text at 086/0476124.
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