A Passion for Durello: Diletta Tonello and her Wines

A Passion for Durello: Diletta Tonello and her Wines

A local beauty spot

I met up with Diletta Tonello on a sunny September afternoon at one of the family  estate’s cherished vineyards bulging with ripe grapes, not far from the village of Gambellara. Diletta  was sitting in the shade of a stylishly restored farm house, where she welcomed me warmly and  handed out a glass of Marachelle, her signature a durello pét nat.



A Legacy reborn

The Tonello Winery is based in the eastern most fringes of Veneto’s Lessini Hills. It is another shining example of a local winery that has seen continued success both locally and in international markets with a young thirty-something  entrepreneur at its helm .

Diletta, just like several of her peers in the Lessini DOC area, seems to have developed a knack for giving a contemporary twist to traditional products endowing them with a renewed, modern appeal. It's a delightful blend of old-school commitment and a fresh, innovative approach that's reshaping the local wine scene.

"The Tonello estate, has always been a rather family based affair " Diletta tells me. "We were always in the wine game, producing bottles that found their way to local homes”

The Tonello winery boasts a sprawling 12 hectares of fertile land, rich in volcanic soil that yields over 50 thousand bottles of wine a year that include excellent Sparkling Durello wine. The vineyards of the estate is a rich tapestry of grape varieties, from the distinctive Durella to the classic Garganega, alongside Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Furthermore, the winery is dedicated to bio and sustainable farming and has embraced a number of eco friendly policies ranging from strictly limited use of chemicals to adopting recyclable packaging.  


Diletta’s Journey

"When did you pick up the reigns of the winery, Diletta?", I ask.

She leans in, "Well, I've been lending a hand on the estate since I was a child. It was clear early on that I wanted to be a key player in the family venture. So, I dedicated myself to the role as best I could. I secured a high school diploma in agricultural studies, which was followed by a university degree in Viticulture and Oenology. To broaden my horizons, I even embarked on a journey to the Clair Valley in Australia and worked in a winery there for many months. I honed my English skills and picked up on wine trends from the New World. I also spent a part of my apprenticeship in Tuscany working on red wines. An amazing time I will always remember fondly"

Today the Tonella winery boasts a range of different wine labels some spawned by Diletta’s very own vision, just like the excellent pét nat she handed to me.


Diletta admiring her ripening grapes


The Allure of Durello

"Tell me about your other wines” I inquire with genuine curiosity.

Diletta's eyes light up as she begins to unravel the stories behind her winerie's distinctive products. "Every wine we make has a particular label that draws inspiration from Greek Mythology," she explains. "There’s Aura ('breeze'), it's our traditional method Durello sparkling wine that has aged for 5 years on the lees. It's an 'Extra Brut,' with virtually no added sugar."

She continues, "Then there's 'Teti,' named after the goddess of the sea. It's another traditional method Durello sparkling wine, aged for around 36 months on the lees, with its own particular character.

Of course, we're not limited to the wines I’ve just mentioned; we're adventurous and love to experiment with new processes. We also make an excellent sweet wine via the appassimento method which is typical of this part of the Veneto area."

Diletta tells me that 50% of her wines are exported abroad mainly to the US, Canada and Japan as well as to northern Europe, including the UK. The rest is enjoyed at home by Italians. It appears that business is good.

I listen to Diletta's words as she unveils the intricate world of treating Garganega, Durella, Chardonnay grapes. It's like watching a painter describe their works of art and it dawns on me that winemaking isn't just a profession for Diletta, it's more of a mission etched into her soul.


Beyond the Bottle

I press on, "Diletta, what does all of this mean to you? What drives you to make wine?"

Pausing, she leans in, her eyes alight once again. "Yes, it's undoubtedly a business, but let me say a little more”.

Diletta takes a breath. “If I could accurately describe the struggles, the sleepless nights, and the huge challenges my team and I grapple over for the wine we produce every year, you might question whether our efforts are worth it at all. I've come to realize however, that I'm not just crafting wine here, but I’m actually weaving stories, a tapestry of flavours that tell a tale of terroir and craftmanship. My wines are like a a canvas upon which I describe the land you can admire here, around you right now.”

“Wih my wines I bring the essence of the Lessini Hills to the market;  its climate, its soil and its mix of timeless tradition handed down from one generation to the next. I sell a tapestry, an image, a picture of my corner of the world, its not just wine. Every bottle is like a heirloom to me that brings people together, bridges generations as if united under a single banner.”

“If I can continue to craft wines that somehow stand the test of time, that can excite and entertain yet still be a testament to my culture then, I believe I've hit the essence of what winemaking should be."

I'm genuinely taken aback, almost in awe by Diletta’s vision. Her passion for wine making as evident as the glow in her eyes.


Looking ahead

"What's your vision for the future and how do you see the bridging of generations going forward?"

Diletta does not hesitate: "I have big dreams. I want to transform the way people enjoy wine in this enchanting borderland between Verona and Vicenza.

Picture this: cycling routes with charming wine stops along the way, where visitors can savour local produce. I want more guest houses nestled among the vineyards, and lively wine events that beckon wine enthusiasts from far."


A taste of Durello 

"Sounds amazing," I nod. "And I of course you offer tastings at your cantina as well?"

"Absolutely," she responds. "Like many wineries here, we offer pre-booked guided tours of our vineyards, complete with tastings of our wines paired with samplings of local cuisine.

Personally, I find that my Durello sparkling wine pairs beautifully with dishes like gnocchi with fioretta, a delightful local variety of ricotta cheese. For something more substantial, nothing beats Vicenza-style cod fish, the famous Baccalà alla Vicentina. But the beauty of our wines is their versatility; we have options that complement seafood and more."

Diletta and a bottle of marachelle


As our conversation gracefully comes to an end, Diletta leads me to a nearby pergola, where the Garganega vines stand tall and proud, their clusters ripening under the gentle sun. With a keen eye, she inspects the vines, her connection with the land palpable.

It's a scene that paints a picture of dedication and care and I can't help but wonder if Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, is indeed watching over her, blessing the grapes she tends to so meticulously.



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