The difference between hillside-grown fruit and valley floor-grown fruit is highly important in Prosecco.
One the greatest misunderstandings about Prosecco is that all Prosecco is the same. We realize full well that when someone visits their local super market or big box store in countries like the United States or the United Kingdom, it is hard for them to comprehend the major differences between the Prosecco DOCG appellation (where the wines are raised in hillside vineyards) and the Prosecco DOC appellation (where they are grown on the valley floor).
The Prosecco DOCG encompasses just three townships in Treviso province: Asolo (our township), Conegliano, and Valdobbiadene. All of those townships lie in the morainic hills of Treviso province, just like the ones you see in the photo above.
The “greater” Prosecco DOC extends throughout the plains of Treviso province and includes great tracts of vineyards in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. There, grapes for Prosecco are grown on flatlands.
There are a number of major differences between the wines of the valley floor and the wines of the hillsides.
The hillsides provide the elevation that is necessary to retain the freshness that is so important to great Prosecco.
On the valley floor, the fruit tends to get much riper much more quickly because of the lack of elevation and the greater exposure to the sun. Both of these elements lead to the grapes ripening much more quickly.
On the hillsides, it’s much easier to obtain the acidity and freshness that we look for in Prosecco and it’s also easier, thanks to the cooler temperatures and ventilation, to avoid the rot and mildew that is more common on the valley floor. As a result, hillside growers experience much less trouble each vintage (and a result, they spray their vineyards much less often; this holds for both organic and conventional growers).
Another major element is the fact that hillside vineyards (like the ones in the photo, in our Monfumo vineyard) have to be worked by hand. Can you imagine taking a tractor up into those hills? It would be nearly impossible and highly dangerous.
On the valley floor, mechanical harvest, for example, is much easier. In the hills, each bunch has to be selected and picked by hand.