Italy, one of the earliest countries in Europe to plant grapes, is also the world’s oldest wine-producing region. The history of Italian wine dates back to the 8th century BC, when Etruscan and Greek immigrants established vineyards in ancient Rome. As Roman soldiers conquered territories, they planted vines, spreading viticulture across Europe.
However, the Italian wine industry remained in its infancy due to successive occupations by France, Spain, and Austria since the 16th century, and the Kingdom of Italy was not established until 1861. It wasn’t until 1963 that the Italian government realized the importance of wine quality control regulations, established the initial wine system regulations through the national agricultural department, and divided wine into four grades, marking the beginning of a complete and standardized industry adjustment for Italian wine.
Italy, shaped like a boot, is primarily composed of mountains and hills. The Alps lie to the north, and the Apennines run across the peninsula. The long and narrow terrain spans 10 latitudes. The mountains and hills are rolling and complement each other. The long coastline has a distinct Mediterranean climate.
Due to the large latitude span and the influence of mountains and oceans, the northern part of Italy is slightly colder, the southern part is hotter, and the central part is milder. This changeable weather and temperature provide a good ecological environment for the growth of grapes.
The complex and changeable climate, topography, and soil quality have contributed to the unique personality of Italian wines. Most of Italy’s soils are volcanic, limestone, and hard rock, with gravelly clay soils as well.
The Italian wine classification is divided into four grades, including the wine producing area, the grape variety and color used, the minimum alcohol concentration, the maximum yield per hectare of vineyard and each vine, the aging time of the wine, etc.
Production Area Division
Broadly speaking, Italy has 20 administrative regions. However, according to the grand blueprint for the development of Italian wine, people usually divide it into four major regions: the Northeast, Northwest, Central, and South.
There are about 700,000 hectares and 800,000 vineyards spread across Italy. And the grape varieties planted are also diverse. There are more than 850 kinds of grape varieties planted in Italy, of which more than 300 are certified by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture. The famous Italian red grape varieties include Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Corvina, Aglianico, Nero dAvola, and so on. The famous Italian white grape varieties include Trebbiano, Moscato, Nuragus, Pinot Grigio, and so on.