Could This Italian Town Overtake Champagne As the Sparkling Wine Capital of Europe? 

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The wine region you didn’t even know you were missing.

For Champagne-lovers, Reims, France has always been a sought-after pilgrimage, where you can fill your days sampling high-end champagne from the dynastic vineyards that shaped the sparkling alcohol industry.

However, edging its way into the luxury European wine spotlight is Franciacorta, Italy’s sparkling wine region just an hour outside of Milan. Often called Italy’s “best kept secret,” it’s home to more than 100 majestic wineries—and you might be able to avoid some of the uninitiated crowds that flock to the Reims or Tuscany tasting rooms.

Franciacorta’s wineries can be found along the Strada del Franciacorta, which boasts the lush, rolling hills the Italian countryside has become synonymous with. The region also provides gorgeous views of Lake Iseo—and while we’re talking about Franciacorta claiming the sparkling wine capital title, Lake Iseo is the under-the-radar destination coming for Lake Como’s title.

For a sampling of Franciacorta’s sparkling offerings, start at their largest winery, Guido Berlucci. Then venture to Ronco Calino, because you can’t miss their brut rosé, which fuses a higher-than-normal percentage of Pinot Noir with Chardonnay grapes.

While the sparkling line is the headline of Franciacorta, there’s still pretty for the less bubbly-inclined. The region is also known for distilling the Pinot and Chardonnay grape residue into Grappa; those interested in learning more about the Italian spirit can visit Distillerie Franciacorta.

Moreover, history buffs and literary scholars have plenty to gain from the culturally rich region, from the monastic presence that dates back to the 700s to Dante Algheri’s time spent in Paratico while exiled. And of course, Italian cuisine should also come into play when touring Franciacorta—look no further than Due Colombe for Franciacorta’s Michelin-starred fare.