Producers of Prosecco wines are passionate about what they do, but few more so than, Elvira Bortolomiol, a member of the family that owns Bortolomiol SpA in Valdobbiadene, Italy (shown in these photographs at a recent Prosecco tasting in New York, with Anthony Giglio).

Prosecco, one of the more popular sparkling wines in the world,  is made with at least 85% Glera grapes, the new name for the Prosecco grape as of late 2009. It’s history began over 300 years ago in the hills of Conegliano Valdobbiadene in the northeastern part of Italy (Veneto Province) some 30 miles from Venice. In 1969, Prosecco producers from that area were given D.O.C. status. As of April 1, 2010, it makes its D.O.C.G. debut, becoming Italy’s 44th D.O.C.G., the most coveted status an Italian wine can achieve.

In recent years, wine producers from other countries, most notably Brazil, have been producing Presecco beverages, some even in a can (promoted by Paris Hilton!). The Italians are trying to rein that in (like with Champagne), to be seen as the only legitimate Prosecco region/producers — with the grape name change and the D.O.C.G. designation.

Available in the U.S. since 2000, Prosecco sales were up 12% here last year, while most other sparkling wines and champagnes were down significantly. The spumante comes in Brut, Extra Dry and Dry. The range in sugar content is significant. The Brut has the least and Dry the most.

Compared to Champagne, Prosecco is a good value. It is advisable to drink it young, although it retains it features for more than a year. The 2009 vintage is supposed to be very good. The D.O.C.G. wines will be released in April 2010.