An Undiscovered, Underappreciated Italian Wine Region

Even frequent travelers to Italy may not have heard of the small village of Custosa and the rich wine heritage waiting to be discovered.

Custoza can be said to be hiding in the municipality of Sommacampagna, Verona, in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. It has a population of less than 1,000.

However, the quiet, rural village is only half an hour’s drive from Verona, one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city of Verona is famous for its spectacular operas and concerts performed in the Roman amphitheater and for its connection to the timeless story of Romeo and Juliet.

Custosa is less than an hour’s drive from the southern end of Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake and a popular summer playground for tourists from all over the world. At the end of a peninsula jutting into the lake is the beautiful medieval town of Sirmione.

However, in addition to the house itself, Custoza (Ossario di Custosa) commemorating two battles with Austria during the Italian War of Independence, this small village has no real tourist attractions.

Instead, it’s a great place for a long trip by bike, e-bike or horse, where tourists can fully enjoy the natural beauty of the area and taste great food and wine.

Custoza white wine

Custosa, a white wine from the region, takes its name from where the grapes are grown in the gentle, morainic hills southeast of Lake Garda. It is less popular than other Italian wines.

According to the facts, this wine has been produced since ancient times. But according to Vinography, it wasn’t until the late 1700s that the wine was identified as Custoza.

Bianco di Custoza, a blended white from this region, was established as a DOC in 1971; In 1971 the name was recently changed to Custosa DOC. The area has 1,200 hectares of vineyards, a mix of local producers and wine cooperatives.

Monte del Fra: Guardians of the Custoza

Monte del Fra, a three-generation family-owned winery, is one of the region’s major producers. In 1958, the Bonomo family rented two rooms in a former 15th-century monastery, as well as land for growing wheat, strawberries, peaches and grapes.

The winery’s founder, Massimo Bonomo, produced small quantities of wine and sold them directly on site, advertising small signs on the road before the advent of websites.

However, thanks to over 60 years of family hard work, passion, commitment to the land and sustainable farming, it now owns vineyards under all the major Verona appellations, including Valpolicella Classico, Lugana, Soave and Bardolino.

The winery’s vineyards are among the most extensive in Verona, covering 137 hectares, with another 68 leased.

Monte del Fra produces 1,500,000 bottles each year, and about 60% of the production is imported to 64 different countries. About 38 employees work at the winery, including every family member.

Here, the experience and stability of older family members is combined with the technological know-how, inventiveness and energy of younger people.

“We are an experimental cellar,” says Marika Bonomo, the third generation of the family. “Our goal is to learn from nature and transform terroir into wine.”

“As the largest vineyard owner in the area, we see ourselves as ambassadors of the high quality of Veneto wine and have a genuine desire to protect our land from generation to generation,” he added.

Cà Del Magro Custoza Superiore DOC

Cà del Magro Custoza Superiore DOC is the Monte del Fra wine that most represents the terroir. It has won Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri Award for 12 consecutive years; In 2021 Wine connoisseur is included among the 100 best wines of the year.

Grown in a single vineyard, this elegant wine is a blend of native Garganega, Trebbiano Toscana, Cortesze and Incrocio Manzoni grapes prepared using the Guyot system. The vineyards where the grapes are grown are more than 50 years old and are located on a morainic hill in the middle of Custosa, with a soil composed of calcium, clay and gravel.

It is fresh and fragrant, with a hint of chamomile and white flowers with some fruity notes. It’s easy to drink and delivers strong minerality without too much acidity. Although intended to be enjoyed young, the wine has the potential to age.

The wine in the glass is a bright straw yellow color with a golden sheen. The first sip cleanses the mouth; the next reminds you that you are thirsty.

This wine is versatile and reasonably priced, making it ideal as an aperitif or pairing with pasta, pizza, risotto or seafood for lunch or dinner. Michelin-starred restaurants usually have glasses.

Visit Monte del Fra in Custosa

If you decide to visit this family-owned and operated winery serving four seasons, be prepared for a more bespoke experience than a traditional wine tasting.

Marika’s cousin Silvia helps guests with picnics in the vineyard; blind and vertical wine tasting; A cooking class featuring homemade recipes such as Tortellini di Valeggio, Amarone Risotto and Sfogliatine (doughnut-shaped pastries) from Villafranca; organizes events for small groups that combine wine with music, art and yoga.

He also dines in the nearby village of Vallegio sul Mincio and stays at the Boffenigo Panorama & Experience, a four-star hotel and wellness center perched on a hill overlooking the lake.

For more information:

(Please book in advance when visiting the winery)


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