DOC/DOCG area for red wines in the north of the Italian region of Lombardy in the border area with Switzerland and South Tyrol. The Swiss writer Hermann Hesse (1877-1962), who lived in this valley for a long time, repeatedly described it as his favourite wine. The general Prince Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein (1583-1634) was an excessive wine drinker until the age of 30. His doctor imposed moderation on him due to gout problems and recommended only this red wine, which Wallenstein adhered to until his (violent) death. The wines produced here used to be called Veltliner, but there is no connection with the Austrian Veltliner varieties.
The zone includes the municipalities of Ardenno, Piateda, Ponte and Tirano on the right and Albosaggia and Villa di Tirano on the left bank of the river Adda () in the alpine province of Sondrio. The vineyards, which are steep with an up to 70% (35°), are located on a 45 kilometre stretch at an altitude of between 300 and 700 metres above sea level. They comprise about 1,000 hectares of vineyards with stony clay soil and are mostly planted in sunny southern exposure in terraces supported by dry stone walls. In some cases the grapes have to be brought down into the valley on pulleys. The nearby Lago di Como (Lake Como) has a positive effect. Nearby is the 4,050-metre-high Piz Bernina, which offers protection from the north winds.
All red wines (DOC and DOCG) must be made from at least 90% Chiavennasca(Nebbiolo) and, if necessary, a maximum of 10% of other authorised non-aromatic red varieties. If the grapes come from classified vineyards, Vigna followed by the name of the vineyard can be indicated. The DOC wine is called Valtellina Rosso (also Rosso di Valtellina).
Classified as DOCG in 1998, Valtellina Superiore has an alcoholic content of at least 12% vol and must be matured for at least 24 months, at least 12 months of which must be in wooden barrels. The Riserva has to mature for at least 36 months. The names of the subzones Grumello (named after a castle), Inferno (hottest location in the valley), Maroggia, Sassella (named after a chapel, is considered the best location), Stagafassli (in the adjacent Swiss part of Valtellina) and Valgella may also appear on the bottle label, but only in Italian.
The Sforzato di Valtellina or Sfursat di Valtellina, classified as DOCG in 2003, is a dry red straw wine in the style of Amarone made from partially raisined grapes. The late harvested grapes are dried on wooden racks for up to three months. The grapes are fermented slowly with traditional maceration. This leads to a reduction in acidity and the formation of special aromatic substances. The ruby red red wine must have an alcohol content of at least 14% vol. and must be aged for at least 20 months, 12 months of which in wooden barrels.