When Franco Piona of Cavalchina isn’t on tour with Billy Gibbons and Steve Vai as their trusted guitar tech, he makes his home near Lake Garda, in the tiny village of Custoza. His family has deep roots here; they single-handedly created the Custoza appellation in the 1970s, after 10 years of labeling their wines as Custoza, but their history here goes back even further. It was Franco’s grandfather Luciano that planted the first vineyards and started making wine in 1948 after World War II. Lake Garda and the surrounding hills were cut by receding glaciers after the ice age, and the resulting morainic soils are excellent for the cultivation of grapes. In fact, it was the Hapsburgs who ruled this area prior to the unification of Italy that classified it as top notch land for vineyards. Today, brothers Franco and Luciano are at the helm of their grandfather’s estate, and their two Custoza whites left us speechless at VinItaly. Amedeo, their “superiore” cuvee, has won the coveted Tre Bicchieri award from Gambero Rosso fourteen years in a row, and their absolutely delightful Bardolino Chiaretto Rose just scored 93 points from Vinous “A lovely Rosé from a recognized master in the making of Chiaretto.”

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