It seems the entire Brescia region is dense with wineries offering tastings, including one we chanced upon more by smell than anything else, near the base of the road to Rocca del Garda in the town of Manerba. It wasn’t the wine so much as the cows. In a tiny and odoriferous plot a tiny, grinning 79 year old man makes cheese, olive oil and wine. As if that is not enough, he also cooks in his own restaurant 30m down the road. He recently had to let an 18 year-old hired hand go – she couldn’t keep up with him.
In Italy, (in that area at least) it’s illegal to have wine tastings by the side of the road. Wine may be displayed, as this was, beneath the stone archway over the drive, but nary a drop… So we went in to the garden of the villa / restaurant and joined some others at a long wooden table beneath the olive trees. Cats and enormous ducks eyed us off. In the narrow street outside, drivers honked in pleasure at friends walking the other way and blocking the road. Torrents of laughing Italian rose over the stone wall. (Oh, the movie!).
Our man, poured olive oil into our outstretched palms and wiped our hands in his grubby apron after we’d drunk. (Normally, I put excess olive oil on my legs as a moisturiser. I smell good – almost edible – and look great, if a tad succulent). We and our travelling companions put a dent in his oil supply and they bought a 6-case of the wine. The others at the table went further with a full dozen and half a wheel of cheese. We looked like we were making off with the furniture as we left, boxes under arms.
For a less earthy experience there is the olive oil museum on the eastern shore of the lake or the oil mill Manestrini in Soiano which makes a fine drop. Winery brochures are readily available, making a targeted plan of tasting attack easy. Or just drive or walk. You’re bound to come across a winery sooner or later – just keep your nostrils open for cow dung.