If you’re looking for a running challenge with a difference, the Valtellina Wine Trail is for you. This amazing trail visits wineries and vineyards of Northern Italy while taking on some steep terrain. If the idea of trail running and sampling some of Northern Italy’s best wine check out our rundown of the Valtellina Wine Trail.
Onwards you stumble a little, rounding a row of vines and seeing more ancient stone steps. Another trail ahead, row after row of vines until the sight of pebbled rooftops comes into view. Delirious, with legs and lungs close to bursting, you round the corner and approach the final vineyard next to the castle.
There’s Sondrio below you. Chants of encouragement echo up from the old town. The red carpet is laid out for your arrival in Piazza Garibaldi.
What was your last discussion over a glass of wine with your running friends? Personal bests, the merits of various shoes, dissecting race results, who’s in form, who isn’t — it’s a familiar tune and we all know the conversations. These topics could be seen as run of the mill, but every once in a while great ideas happen over a glass of local wine.
That is exactly how the Valtellina Wine Trail was born. Rewind to 2013 when locals of this Northern Italian valley, which is so synonymous with wine and running, hatched a plan.
To be clear, they weren’t just any like-minded locals, these are icons of the sport who made a friendly bet with their life-long friend and wine producer Michele Rigamonti of La Spia: Marco de Gasperi (seven-times World Mountain Running Champion) and Emanuele Manzi (numerous medals at the World Mountain Running Championships and a staple within the Italian National Team for close to 20 years). Could this trio create a trail race through Valtellina’s iconic vineyards and unite wine and running in a wholly unique way?
Today, eight years later, Scarpa is now a partner of this unique race, held annually each November. It is not just an excuse for another day on the trails. It’s a weekend dedicated to trail running with three distances on offer – a marathon, a half marathon, and a 12 km. Above all else, it’s a journey through a landscape that’s defined by these steep, terraced vineyards and the hard graft that goes into producing this often overlooked wine. There is a multitude of reasons that we’ve locked this event into our calendar:
All three routes take you through local wine cellars. From large to small, the twists and turns entangle you in the area’s rich and historic wine culture (we’re talking Roman times and some argue that Valtellina is the true home of the Nebbiolo grape). Some wine cellars are spread over numerous floors, whilst others consist of a small, dimly lit historic cellar (these are our favourites, you’ll see why). If you’re lucky and not focused on a result, there is often a chance for a sample.
Valtellina boasts the steepest terraced vineyards in Europe. During the race you’ll follow in the footsteps of history, getting a feel for how generations have toiled to create these small areas of wine production that ramp up steeply on the south-facing slopes. They set the stage for a race of constant ups and downs, something that only increases its charm.
As an annual appointment in November, Valtellina Wine Trail is seen by many as the final race of the year, meaning that when you reach the finish line in Sondrio’s Piazza Garibaldi you’ll be embraced in a party-like atmosphere; the locals celebrate the event, whilst the runners round off their season in a fitting style.
The Valtellina Wine Trail, born out of a bet over a glass of wine, is an event you can’t miss.
See you in November in Valtellina!
Scarpa Athlete Carmine de Grandis is taking part this year, here is what he had to say on the run.
I have wanted to go to take part in this iconic race for several years. I am proud to go there as a Scarpa Athlete/Ambassador and meet friend and running legend, Marco De Gasperi. The races in the Valtellina Wine Trails series all offer a beautiful trail route,
A great mountain Valley run, History, Culture and, of course, the famous Valtellina Nebbiolo. I think I might concentrate on savouring the experience, the views and the tastes as much as the beautiful run… if I have run a marathon, I will be thirsty. Right?!? ; )