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I remember the day I took my first flight on my first around the world trip.
Stood at Heathrow airport, backpack on, filled with nervous excitement. I felt like all of the previous years of my life had somehow coalesced to bring me to this wonderful, life-changing, life-enhancing moment. Things would never be the same again. My whole world was about to shift.
Can you picture it?
It was a pretty spectacular feeling and I’m telling you that because that excitement – that sense of wonder – was nothing compared to the excitement I felt when I stood in front of Italy’s most spectacular invention: a Prosecco Vending Machine.
It was quite by fortuitous accident that I happened to stumble, giddy, half running as best as my lack of fitness would let move me, up the steep hill to see the Prosecco vending machine.
It all started a month earlier when I received a little notice telling me that Primavera del Prosecco was in full swing…
Discovering Italy’s Prosecco Region
There’s a spring Prosecco festival, was my first thought. Followed swiftly by the realisation – Prosecco must, of course, be a wine region.
Despite years of supping my way through an impressive number of glasses of Prosecco, I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me that, like Champagne and Rioja and Cava and Chianti, Prosecco had to have a home; a place where the vines were grown and the wine could be tasted.
I’m proud to say that it took me less than a month to go from eureka moment to finding myself stood amongst the vines, glass of Prosecco in hand.
My first visit to Prosecco – and the Prosecco vending machine
I’m not going to lie, my first visit to the Prosecco region was only partly a success. Yes, I got there, and yes I tasted some wonderful Prosecco, but I didn’t do it as well as I could. I just turned up and expected Prosecco tasting opportunities to fall into my lap. And they didn’t. The region, it turns out, requires a lot more planning that that. Which is why I set up this website – to help you avoid those same mistakes. And I’ve returned to the region many times and done a lot more exploration so you don’t have to.
But I did get something right on that first trip (through no effort of my own) – I discovered that there is a Prosecco vending machine.
On my first visit, I only had time to try one vineyard. Leaving the choice to my local driver, I ended up at Col Vetoraz. Back then, it was a small winery with a tiny tasting area that was standing room only, wedged next to the till, elbow to elbow with my wine-loving friends.
After tasting and buying some wine, I had some time left.
“Do you want to visit the Prosecco vending machine?” My driver asked, and my ears nearly fell off my head.
I was about to make an entirely inappropriate response about bears and sh!t and woods, which would probably get lost in translation in the worst possible way. Instead I nodded like a giddy 5 year old offered an unlimited sweet budget, then proceeded to race my travel friends to the top of the hill where the driver had pointed.
I’m not going to lie – this gimmick perched on top of a hill was an absolute highlight of my trip…in fact, of all my travels. I know that some of the locals have mixed feelings about their premium product being flogged like it’s as generic as Coke, and the swarms of visitors that the Prosecco vending machine inevitably attracts. But me, I continue to think it’s an absolute must-see in the area. I mean, come on: it’s a machine, that vends one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the world. Why wouldn’t you want to try it?
Things change – and things stay the same
Returning this year, I popped back to say hello to my beloved Prosecco vending machine and tell it how much I’d missed it (one in my kitchen would be a real treat). And, to my surprise I found out that it had gone forth and multiplied. What was once one machine was now three.
I was pleased, visiting mid-day, mid-week, to see that the vending opportunities had expanded. Alongside the ability to vend Prosecco, there are now cheese, cured meat and snack vending options; and the hilltop features an expanded seating and picnic area.
But then I thought back to my first visit. Me, my two travel buddies, and our impromptu picnic, sat out on top of the Prosecco hills with the entire region seemingly to ourselves.
Then I imagined what the area must be like in peak season now, on a Saturday afternoon with cars jammed down the thin lane, people hiking up the hill just to get that much coveted instagram picture of the famous Prosecco vending machine, before tearing off to snap more shots of the region. Stop. Click. Stop. Click. Leave.
Please don’t let Prosecco become Venice, I thought as I looked around.
“Is it bad? The expansion,” I asked my driver.
“I come up here to meet my friends and have a drink at weekends,” he told me and my heart settled, reassured by the idea that, as enticing as it is for tourists, this space also remains a hangout for local people to share a glass, break bread and enjoy the views. It’s just a bonus that there’s a Prosecco vending machine conveniently on hand to help them do that.
How to visit Italy’s Prosecco vending machine
Getting to Italy’s Prosecco region
Northern Italy’s Prosecco region has just been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its spectacular hogback hills and distinctive plots of vines planted on steep, narrow terraces. It’s the kind of sweeping green scenery, dotted with traditional farmhouses and wineries, that is straight out of an Italian picture book.
This is the Italy you imagine; the Italy you travel hundreds and thousands of miles to come and see.
To get to the Prosecco region, aim for Venice or Treviso as your hub (both have airports and train connections). The Prosecco region is located about an hour away from there. Warning: it’s not near Trieste, as many people mistakenly thing.
The best way to get to the region from Venice or Treviso is to take the train and then hire a local driver in the area (because we all know we shouldn’t drink and drive).
The Prosecco vending machine is located on Colline del Cartizze, the hill known for producing the most premium Prosecco in the entire DOCG region, Superiore di Cartizze, which located between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Of course, it’s situated on La Strada del Prosecco – or the Prosecco Road. Where else did you expect the Prosecco vending machine would be?
First stop: Osteria Senz’Oste
With an address like: The Prosecco Vending Machine, Prosecco Road, Italy, you’re unlikely to find it with any certainty on any map so Osteria Senz’Oste is the best landmark to aim for.
Osteria Senz’Oste is a small, traditional farmhouse located at the bottom of the Cartizze hill and is on route to the famed vending machine – you literally have to go past the door – so you may as well make a stop.
The name Senz’Oste translates to ‘without a host’, an accurate description of this unique little Osteria which runs completely on an honour system.
Inside the charming stone cottage is a small kitchen and fridge which contains bread, packs of cheese, local cured meats (the owner produces his own salami), water, juice and, of course, wine. There are also chopping boards and knives for you to borrow to slice your bread and meat.
Simply choose what you’d like from the kitchen, ring it up on the till, then pay using either cash or credit card.
You can enjoy your picnic either inside the Osteria or at the row of picnic tables outside, with views out over the Prosecco hills. The better suggestion (according to me), is to take your lunch with you and head further up the hill to the Prosecco vending machine to enjoy your food and vended wine together.
Tip: feel free to leave a card or note inside the Osteria – it’s actively encouraged. But, to the person who decided to donate an item of underwear: it’s a public kitchen so, no. Just, no.
The Prosecco vending machine is owned and run by the man who owns Osteria Senz’Oste, Cesare. If you’re really lucky (unlucky? ;)) enough, you might bump into him and get to sample his home brew. There was a non-Prosecco drink that I tried that had floating brains in in – I was assured they were figs but I wasn’t entirely convinced. I’m pretty sure I’m still recovering from it all.
Visiting the Prosecco Vending Machine
From Osteria Senz’Oste, follow the signs for ‘Prosecco’ (I mean, when would you ever not follow a sign for Prosecco?) up a narrow path through the vines to the top of the hill.
This is where you’ll find the famous Prosecco vending machines.
If you would have visited just a couple of years ago (like during my first visit), you would have found one lone machine on top of the hill. However, due to its increasing popularity, there are now three machines sat together under a makeshift wooden shelter. Two of the machines purely stock Prosecco, whilst the third machine is a nice pairing of Prosecco and food (cheese, meat and snacks), just in case you’ve already finished what you got from the Osteria. No judgement.
The machines are filled with nicely chilled Prosecco from several of the local wineries, with a bottle setting you back around €10 – 20. That’s pretty good pricing for the ability to do something quite rare – buy Prosecco from a vending machine.
Just pick the bottle you’d like, pay with cash or card, then an electronic arm will retrieve your bottle and deliver it to you.
There are (sometimes) cups on the side so you can drink your wine straight away, fuss-free. But I’d recommend spending a few extra euros to vend a small glass. It’s dispensed in a box, is as chilled as the Prosecco, it means you don’t have to drink your nice wine from a nasty plastic cup, and you can take it home as a memento of your trip.
Close to the machines, nestled within the vineyards, there are some thoughtfully placed tables where you can sit and enjoy your tipple while soaking up the beautiful views peeking out from behind the surrounding vines.
- You need an Italian ID card to use the Prosecco vending machine. If you’re visiting the region with a Prosecco driver, they’ll be more than happy to lend you theirs to vend your wine. They’ll even recommend which Prosecco to choose.
- If you’re paying at the vending machines with cash, bring small notes and coins as they don’t give change.
- You’ll want some flat footwear and a decent heart to climb the hill to the vending machine but it is absolutely worth it.
Visiting the Prosecco vending machine and Col Vetoraz Winery
On my first visit to the Prosecco region – the one where I didn’t plan things too well – I visited the trio of Col Vetoraz for wine tasting, Osteria Senz’Oste for lunch and the Prosecco vending machine for…well, for all the fun it entailed. It’s a pretty solid itinerary if you’ve just turned up in the area and don’t have much time to make a plan.
Col Vetoraz has a significantly expanded offering compared to when I first visited and if you’re not visiting on a weekend in peak season, you might be able to risk turning up without booking.
However, if you are planning ahead, there are better itineraries to follow. I send most of my readers to small, family run vineyards which work on appointment only and where you get the dedicated attention of a private tasting (for the same cost or less than Col Vetoraz). Yes, visit the Prosecco vending machine, but there is so much more of the Prosecco region to see. Book a driver and they will show you the best of the Prosecco region that most of the tourists never get to see.
When to visit the Prosecco Vending Machine
The vending machines can get quite busy, particularly during the weekends, so it’s best to plan ahead. Weekday lunchtime and early afternoon are probably your safest bet. If you’re only in the area during the weekend, try to arrive early to avoid crowds and find a table to yourselves.
Until you get to Prosecco, here’s my guide for how to choose good Prosecco when you’re shopping for Italian sparkling wine at home.
So, that’s my guide to visiting the Prosecco Vending machine in Italy. Got any questions? Let me know in the comments below.
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