Best wineries in Umbria - CareerGappers

Thursday, 16 May 2019


Madonna Del Latte is a small, family-run winery on a stunning historic estate just outside Orvieto near Lake Bolsena. Its journey began in 2000 when Manuela Zardo and Hellmuth Zwecker bought a run-down building with a collapsing roof on the ancient site. After a transformative renovation, the first vines were planted in 2004, and the family started producing wine in 2008.

Today, Madonna Del Latte is run by Manuela and Hellmuth’s son, Leon Zwecker, and it has flourished into one of Umbria’s finest wineries. It produces around 20,000 bottles a year from its 7 hectares of vineyards, harnessing the quality of the area’s volcanic soil and the ample sunlight bestowed by its hilltop location.


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We were given a personal tour of Madonna Del Latte by Leon Zwecker, who runs the family business


Our experience

Leon greeted us with a friendly smile in the blistering sunshine, welcoming us into his family home as though we were old friends. We could see straight away that he derives great happiness from the work he does at Madonna Del Latte.

“I feel like a big kid with my plants and machines,” he told us. “My whole life is about good wine and good food. It’s not just about business and making money.”

On this enthusiastic note, he began to show us around the grounds. We were fascinated to hear about the initial project of building a winery on a historic site that had turned to ruin, and how his family committed years of investment and dedication to get it up and running. “It was a project of passion and insanity!” Leon exclaimed.

Leon led us to a lookout point from where we could see out towards Lake Bolsena. The lake was formed by volcanoes collapsing thousands of years ago, bringing out the precious volcanic earth that Leon uses to grow the crop today.


The cellars at Madonna Del Latte are built into the volcanic caves of 2000-year-old Etruscan tombs


All of the work at Madonna Del Latte, from harvesting through to bottling, is done by hand by a team of 10 to 15 people who work with the family seasonally. The full production process is powered sustainably using solar panels.

Leon showed us into the barrel cellar, set inside the remarkable site of a 2,000-year-old Etruscan tomb, minerals glistening on the walls. Down here the temperature stays at a constant 12 to 14 degrees – perfect for storing the barrels.

After guiding us through the production cycle, Leon led us back upstairs and into the tasting room, where plates and glasses were neatly laid out on a table for us.


The tasting

As a quirky pairing for our wines, Leon brought out a plate of local goat’s cheese, matured under volcanic ash at a nearby farm, Fattoria Il Secondo Altopiano. Its soft, subtle and peppery flavour was like nothing we’d tasted before, complemented superbly by sundried tomatoes.

Our first taste of wine was the Rosario Brut, a sparkling rosé blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grown in the vineyards right outside. Leon explained how these grapes are slightly less mature than others, which keeps it light and fresh.

Next up we tried Viognier, a beautiful, semi-aromatic white wine, which was given a bronze Decanter award for its quality. The grape used for this wine almost died out because it is hard to maintain and isn’t suitable for mass production.

Finally, we tasted the signature red vintage Sucàno, a blend of 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, matured for two years in French oak barrels and two more in the bottle. We could taste the spicy flavours resulting from the volcanic soil and oak ageing. Coupled with the volcanic goat’s cheese, you couldn’t get a better, more unique flavour of Italy.

Madonna Del Latte has an indoor room and an outdoor terrace in the vineyards for tastings

How to book

Madonna Del Latte is open for visits throughout the year. You can book a variety of tours and buy products online at


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