The Zenato family vineyard has been making a rather special white wine exclusively for Waitrose for 25 years

Photography: Colin Dutton, Laura Ashman

When Nadia Zenato and her brother Alberto were growing up, there wasn’t much room for doubt about the career paths they would take.

"The vineyard was our playground,’ says Nadia. ‘Since I was a child, I have smelt the perfume of the wine, so it was natural to carry on the work started by our parents."

Set on the shores of Lake Garda, west of Verona, the family vineyard produces Zenato Villa Flora Lugana, a white wine created exclusively for Waitrose. It has built a loyal following among customers, and celebrated its 25th birthday in 2018.

Villa Flora is made only from Trebbiano di Lugana grapes, a native variety that Nadia’s father, Sergio, began championing back in the 60s.

‘My grandfather started to cultivate the first vineyards of Trebbiano di Lugana, but back then our territory was not well known,’ she says. ‘My father had great passion and ambition, and worked hard to develop its reputation, with my mother by his side.

"It wasn’t always easy, but today Lugana is a great white that’s an ambassador for us all over the world."

The vines grow on stratified limestone clay, rich in minerals, between the lake and an amphitheatre of glacial rock.

‘Our wines are the expression of our territory, and our commitment is to produce quality wines enhancing the characteristics of the native grapes,’ says Nadia. ‘The vine represents our roots, and the work on the land is an ancient family ritual for us.’

The grapes are harvested by hand, in the last 10 days of September. It’s a favourite time.

‘The harvest is the real magic moment,’ says Nadia, ‘when the grapevines achieve their maximum splendour. You must understand when it’s time to pick the grapes. I go to the vineyards and taste them, to understand when the right moment is coming. This love for the territory, and for this job – it’s in our DNA.’