Flooding endangers ambitious Venice vineyard

A couple of years ago, I wrote about an ambitious viticulture project in the unlikely locale of the Venice lagoon. The Bisol family, better known for prosecco production, launched its Venissa project in the early 2000s, planting two acres of dorona, an almost-extinct white variety, on the island of Mazzorbo. With news of disastrous flooding in Venice also come reports that the vineyard was under six feet of salty water.

The Venissa vineyard on the island of Mazzorbo. (Photo by Steve Jankowski)

Although the vines have developed some resistance to salinity – during my visit, Matteo Bisol told me that there’s salt water about a meter below the vineyard surface – the recent deluge has put the vineyard’s survival in question. Decanter reports that Bisol won’t know for sure until spring whether the vineyard has survived.

Venice was hit by a high tide – known as acqua alta, or high water – of just over six feet last week, the highest level in half a century. The historic flood of 1966 (6.3 feet) actually wiped out most of the agriculture, including grapes, in Venice. Even if Venissa survives this high tide, its long-term survival remains in doubt: Scientists predict that as the planet continues to warm and sea level continues to rise, such devastating floods will become more common.

Of course, the entire city and outer islands are suffering through this flooding, with many landmarks and homes heavily damaged. The Bisol family is selling some rare magnums of several vintages of the Venissa dorona to raise money for those affected. As of this writing, some were still available at the Bisol website here.