This area - the largest vineyard in Europe covering its 6,600 hectares on the hilly range in the eastern section of the province of Verona - was the first area to obtain the D.O.C. designation in Italy in 1936. In more recent years, it was awarded two additional quality designations, the top indication where wine is concerned: Recioto di Soave D.O.C.G. and Soave Superiore D.O.C.G. The oldest areas of provenance, located on the hills between the municipalities of Monteforte d'Alpone and Soave, was defined in 1931 and corresponds to the Soave "classica" area, while the Colli Scaligeri sub-area goes from San Martino Buon Albergo to Roncà, including the valleys of Val di Mezzane, Val d'Illasi, Val Tramigna and Val d'Alpone. In this entire area, the maximum quality expression of the Garganega grape is attained from the grapevines, so much so that the area is identified by the grape and the grape by the area, creating a unique and singular tie.
Soave appears to derive from "Suaves", a name used to denominate the Suevic who settled in Italy under the rule of the Lombard King Alboin. The area was already known for its agricultural qualities in Roman times. It was a "pagus", a rural district contained within boundaries and perhaps divided into centurie (Roman allotments), renowned for its good locatio and the concentration of its cultivations. During the Middle Ages - when the Castle of Soave was built - wine-growing became increasingly important in this area.
As curious testimony of how wine entwines with the history of this area and how important the grape harvest was for the inhabitants of Soave in the fourteenth century, an engraving was made on a stone wall beneath the balcony of the Soave Court of Law, proudly claiming « This court of law was built seventy five years after the year one thousand and three hundred [...] when the people of the town pressed grapes with their feet ».
The D.O.C. wines are Soave, Soave classico, Soave spumante and Soave Colli Scaligeri.
Soave derives from a practised combination of Garganega grapes - at least 70% - with the Trebbiano di Soave, Chardonnay and Pinot bianco grapes, making up to 30% of the total. This blend makes for a straw yellow wine with some hints of green, an intense and delicate fragrance, and dry, medium-bodied, well-orchestrated and slightly bitter taste. Its geographical location and proximity to the main paths of communication to the south, and the historical and monumental importance of the territory, make Soave the third most important centre of interest in the Verona area, trailing only Verona and Lake Garda.
The Strada del Vino (Wine Road) connects vineyards and parish churches along an idyllic fifty kilometre itinerary, offering visitors beautiful landscapes and the chance to visit Roman churches, villas, castles and museums.