In the beautiful setting of Illasi, a small town in the province of Verona surrounded by vineyards and overlooked by a medieval castle, rises an ancient villa: here, the preservation of the culture of growing grapes and making wine is so paramount that part of this mansion has been permanently dedicated to this mission with the creation of the Museo del Vino – Wine Museum. The owners of Villa Canestrari — the Bonuzzi and the Franchi families — come themselves from a long winegrowing tradition: nowadays, with Francesco Bonuzzi, they are at their 4th generation of winemakers! For more than 125 years they have been producing Valpolicella and Soave wines from their vineyards in Val D’Illasi and their company, “Villa Canestrari”, rose in the ‘90s from the merge of these two families. The desire to show and celebrate the hard yet fascinating working life of their grand-parents and great grand-parents pushed them to rebuild a part of their villa to house a Wine Museum, nominated by the Great Wine Capitals Global Network as the winner of the “Best Of Wine Tourism Award 2018” in the Art and Culture section.
The museum includes several rooms. The largest one accommodates a varied collection of equipment and tools dating back to the beginning of the 20th century: instruments used for drying the grapes such as the typical “arele”, presses, bottling and labeling machines, as well as various kinds of filters. Younger visitors will get a glimpse of how different and often difficult wine-making processes were, while older visitors will have the opportunity to contemplate with a certain nostalgia agricultural equipment that harks back to the early days of mechanization in our sector. In another room, the real treat of the museum is on show: the ancient office of Carlo Bonuzzi, an ancestor of Villa Canestrari’s owners, with his writing desk, record books, ledgers, old typewriters and precious handwritten notebooks.
The historical gem is indeed a notebook dated 1886, containing jottings on wine and wine-making by Carlo Bonuzzi. He was one of the first students of the Royal School of Viticulture and Oenology in Conegliano Veneto (he would travel the 130km to the insitute by cart!), graduating in 1888 as a winemaker. His dedication gave a new impetus to its family, adding quality to their wine producers activity. Following a staircase that leads down from the office, visitors reach the villa’s underground cellar, where the prestigious “Amarone Riserva 1888” ages for several years. Back on the first floor, there is the reconstruction of a laboratory — a fascinating setting with examples of old instruments used to analyse wines. Take a look at the pavement, too: the floors of the museum, of the stairs and of the tasting room are all in “Pietra di Prun” (a sedimentary rock from the Lessini hills), and the slabs you will be walking on were once the covering of the Sant’Anna d’Alfaedo church!
On the upper level, the families converted the “grain loft” (the place where the grapes used to be left to dry to make Recioto) into a spacious conference hall that hosts wine-tasting courses and other wine-related events. The Museum works also as an Educational Centre, where visitors gain a deeper knowledge of wine and winemaking, learning how to recognize flavours, scents and aftertastes, as well as how to match wines with food. “Villa Canestrari” is also renowned for its high-quality wines all around the world: their Amarone, Valpolicella Ripasso, Soave all received national or international awards. You can get to taste their creations and visit the Wine Museum during our 4-hours “Soave and Amarone” tour or our full-day “Soave, lunch and Amarone” tour: a real all-round experience!