Ticino is famous for its Merlot. In fact, it is the most important grape variety grown in our area. Of the slightly more than 1000 hectares of vineyards, about 860 are planted with Merlot. It is followed by the Americana, Chardonnay, Bondola and Pinot Noir grape varieties, which share 20 % of the cultivated area. The Bondola grape in particular is native to Ticino and was also the most widespread until the beginning of the 20th century. Today it has been displaced by Merlot and is only grown in Ticino, especially in the Ascona-Locarno region. But why is it precisely the Merlot that has enjoyed such great success? To find out, we have to dig around in the past a bit and brush up on the history of viticulture. In the early 1900s, a terrible phylloxera epidemic destroyed the native vines in Ticino (and in the rest of Europe too), and so it was necessary to look for a grape variety that was resistant to the disease. The first trials with the Merlot grape were successful and cultivation was strongly encouraged by the canton. Thanks to the techniques of the winegrowers and the special microclimate of Ticino, with its mild winters and Mediterranean summers, Merlot is now also used to produce sparkling, white and rosé wines. Merlot vinified white (also made from red grapes) is a Ticino speciality. That is why only 9 % of the grapes grown in Ticino are white.
There is something mysterious about wine cellars. Chilly, dark places where magic happens. Maybe that's why the wine tours, the open wine cellars days and the wine tastings on request are so popular. Walk among the vines, breathe in the sweet scent of the ripening grapes and taste the delicious wines explained to you personally by the winemaker. That sounds like the perfect programme for a day out with friends. If tasting and exercise can be combined and you also get to know unexpected corners of the region, all the better. Some of the wineries of Ascona-Locarno enjoy a particularly stunning view and immediately make you feel like you're on holiday, such as Cantina Carrara. Others are not just wineries, but real worlds to explore. Like the Matasci winery, for example, where not only is wine made, but the history of wine is carried on and the art is promoted. Among the many, there are also heroic vineyards - those hidden vineyards that are difficult to reach and cultivate because they are located in inaccessible or almost inaccessible areas - such as the Vigneto della Pioda above Maggia and one of the highest vineyards in Ticino, located in Brontallo at over 700 m.a.s.l., an altitude where grapes normally find it difficult to ripen. The Lago Maggiore region is rich in such hidden bijous: half of the region's vineyards are considered difficult to cultivate because of their location, accessibility and soil conditions. The result is rare wines that are worth tasting: Who knows, maybe it will become your new favourite wine.
It was Matasci's "Selezione d'Ottobre" that made Ticino Merlot famous in the rest of Switzerland, which enjoyed extraordinary success on the other side of the Alps in the 1960s and is still very popular today. Speaking of records, Delea's Spumante Charme was the first sparkling wine made from 100% Merlot grapes and vinified white.