Umberto Cosmo, co-owner and co-founder of Bellenda wines, describes himself as a perpetual, restless traveler. As a wine enthusiast and successful entrepreneur, he is curious, inquisitive, and adventurous—willing to take risks and try new ideas.
These character traits permeate his family-owned winery in the prestigious Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG wine appellation as well as the family’s fun-loving approach to wine tourism and hospitality.
So close to Venice but so different
The Bellenda winery is located in Carpesica, a tiny hamlet with just over 1,000 residents close to Vittorio Veneto, a small city in northeast Italy (both in the province of Treviso in the Veneto region).
Venice, the region’s capital only one hour north, has become one of the most glaring examples of tourism gone awry. But sitting in its shadow, Carpesica offers visitors a counterpoint with its relaxed ambiance and unspoilt natural setting.
Historically, this area is famous as the site where the last battle between the Italian army and Austro-Hungarian troops took place during World War I.
Now the rolling hills are probably best known as part of the Prosecco Wine Road (Strada del Prosecco e dei Colli Conegliano e Valdobbiadene). This UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises 15 municipalities in the area that have been linked to viticulture and enology since ancient times.
This region is one of the most important producers of high-quality sparkling wines, producing some eight million cases (100 million bottles) of Prosecco annually. Compared to the Champagne region in France, it is seven times larger in size.
Marrying tradition with contemporary sensibilities
An eye-catching photo of Umberto, atop a sidecar with his brothers Luigi and Domenico by his side, is prominently displayed on the Bellenda website.
Umberto explains it helps to capture the philosophy of the winery.
“I brought this concept back from my travels in the Orient,” he says. “It originally derives from the adage of the Tre Scimmie (three monkeys): Do not look at what is contrary to fairness; do not listen to what is contrary to fairness; and do not say what is contrary to fairness.”
The Cosmo family translated these thoughts into the world of Bellenda wines: “Accept challenges, break molds, always research, and never settle.”
Prior to 1986, the Cosmo brothers’ father and grandfather sold their grapes to the local collective of winemakers. Since that time, this third generation of owners decided to grow their own grapes and to make wines, but also to maintain their close and long-standing relationships with the local growers whose grapes they now purchase.
The brothers made another bold decision to return to the classic method of producing Prosecco, with secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle rather than in tanks, a method once widely used but largely abandoned after 1930.
Sustainability is another core value of Bellenda. No pesticides are used in the vineyards, the first fermentation takes place with indigenous yeast, no sulfites are used in the wine, and the grass between and under the vines isn’t cut, welcoming most insect species and encouraging biodiversity.
Conegliano Valdobbiadene: A growing mecca for wine tourists
“Wine tourism is increasing in this area and will become even more important in the future,” says Umberto.
Increasingly, wine enthusiasts are shaping their travel itineraries around wine tours, tastings, and vineyard stays in Italy, and with Prosecco sales increasing year over year, the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG production area is well poised for exponential growth.
A 2023 report on wine tourism in Treviso (prepared by the Consorzio Conegliano Valdobbiadene) noted spikes in both domestic and international tourism in the region outstripping 2019 pre-COVID levels. The numbers of international visitors increased by more than 20 percent between 2022 and 2023.
“Wine is always a companion to food,” says Umberto, emphasizing the integral relationships among food, wine and culture.
To that end, the family created a dedicated food and wine space close to the cellar, called the Mother Kitchen (Cucina Madre). It is used for tastings, art exhibitions, book presentations, small concerts, wine-themed dinners and other local events.
Bellenda offers visitors a variety of options for sommelier-led wine tastings. For those making a brief stop at the winery, a simple tasting includes three expressions of Prosecco Superiore: Cosi E Conegliano, a semi-sparkling wine; sparkling San Fermo Valdobbiadene; and Sei Uno Valdobbiadene, an extra brut sparkling wine.
“The San Fermo (named after a little church in the area) Valdobbiadene is our most important wine, both commercially and in my heart,” says Umberto.
Guests can arrange other tastings that include vineyard visits, tastings pairing Prosecco with local cold cuts and cheese, picnics on the grounds, and more in-depth tastings that explain different fermentation methods.
Visit for a day or stay longer
While Bellenda is a perfect day excursion from Venice, many guests opt to use the winery as an immersive base for exploration of the art, culture, foods, wines and history of the region.
Some of the most popular nearby destinations include the Andrea Palladian villas, the Canova plaster museum in Possagno, and the historic Follina Abbey.
The whimsically-named Alice Relais Nelle Vigne is a restored 19th-century farmhouse on the Bellenda grounds, which is surrounded by vineyards. Eight elegant rooms inside are located on the upper floors, offering panoramic views of the countryside.
Service at Alice is attentive and lodging includes breakfast on the patio (weather permitting), in the lounge, or en suite. The menu emphasizes fresh, local organic products including cured meats, cheeses, eggs, and freshly-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices sourced from local producers.
During autumn, guests can enjoy a taste of authentic Italy during the grape harvest (vendemmia) when local festivities and feasts take place in many surrounding small towns. And during ski season, the Dolomites are just 1.5 hours away.
Open throughout the year, each season at Bellenda has its special lures. The property closes briefly for the winter holidays between December 24 and January 7.
IF YOU GO
For further information: info@Bellenda.it