We’re in Vacallo, just outside Mendrisio, ready to throw ourselves into a grape-fuelled weekend. Some friends have recommended the Conca Bella Boutique Hotel – Ticino’s first wine hotel. Everything here revolves around wine. Our room has ruby-coloured walls and is dedicated to a local winery with lots of bottles to taste. The hotel wine cellar features more than 1,100 different labels. We can’t resist and treat ourselves to a delicious white Merlot-based aperitif before dinner in the beautiful little courtyard in front of the hotel.
In the morning we admire the hilly landscape covered in vineyards from the window. It’s the perfect day for setting out to discover the local area. The tour we have chosen winds its way through the region’s wine estates and gives us the chance to taste local wines and produce, all entirely by bike. We’re due to depart from Balerna-based Borgovecchio. Here we meet our two friendly guides – both volunteers and strictly local – and get to know the rest of the group. There are only a few of us, so it doesn’t take long to create a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Having been given bright red bicycles, helmets and a few bottles of water, we’re ready to get going.
The Mendrisiotto offers one surprise after another. Our guides lead us through small villages, past colourful little houses and narrow alleys, telling us about the history of the area, its traditions and a few fun little anecdotes. The vineyards are the “common thread”, invariably reappearing between one village and the next. Sometimes they’re on top of a hill, sometimes on terraced land. We cycle along with a smile on our faces. Another short climb and we reach our first stop: the Trapletti estate in Coldrerio. Enrico, the owner, is waiting for us. He grew up here at the vineyard, turning it from a passion into a career. His enthusiasm is contagious. We visit the large estate, where the perfect grapes are well looked after and have also been organic since 2020. Enrico has prepared a selection of wines to taste. We appreciate the characteristics of each bottle thanks to his invaluable explanations. We wouldn’t mind staying a bit longer, but our tour has more to show us. Back on our bikes and we finally enjoy a bit of downhill.