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Wine regions in Italy

Italy ranks with France, Spain and Germany as one of the most famous wine countries in Europe. Its outstanding cuisine and the special charm of the country and its inhabitants probably also make it the most popular. Italy's wine regions are among the oldest and most diverse in the world.

Viticulture in Italy

Italy's wine regions are among the oldest in the world. When the Greeks introduced the vine to the south of the country around 1000 BC, it was already being cultivated further north by the Etruscans. The Greeks called Italy "Enotria" (the land of wine) because of its special suitability for wine. Several of the grape varieties still cultivated today originated in Greece.
Even after the rise of the Roman Empire, it was still Greek wine that enjoyed the highest reputation for an extended period. Only gradually did Roman viticulture establish itself in Italy.
In the golden age of the Roman Empire wine was such an important part of everyday culture that consumption is estimated at 1.8 million hectolitres – equivalent to half a litre a day for every single citizen.One of the most important Roman influences was the expansion of winegrowing areas into the provinces. This led to the creation of wine regions throughout Italy, and the wine trade flourished. And viticulture in Italy remains one of the country's most important economic factors to this day. For a long time the emphasis was on quantity, but the 1960s brought radical change to Italy's viticulture: famous Tuscan wineries such as Antinori and Frescobaldi became models for high-quality wine.

Ideal geographical conditions

It has long been thought that vines thrive best on slopes, and in that respect Italy offers geographical conditions that are virtually ideal. The Apennine mountain range runs through Italy from the north-west to the south-east, forming a weather divide. The Alps protect the wine regions in Italy from cold north winds, and the landscape is dominated by the Mediterranean Sea, the Tyrrhenian Sea and many other bodies of water. The Mediterranean region has a Mediterranean climate, with predominantly hot, dry summers and mild, humid winters – ideal for most grape varieties. The soils are also varied, and advantageous for winegrowing areas in Italy – featuring limestone, tuff and gravelly loam.
There can, of course, be no single description of the climate of a country that’s 1 200 km long. It is on the cool side in the foothills of the Alps, where the winegrowing regions of Trentino, South Tyrol and Lombardy are located, and hot in Calabria and Sicily.

From Friuli to Sicily: wine-growing regions in Italy

Italy's wine regions coincide with its administrative divisions. There are thus 20 winegrowing regions, characterized by diverse and unique wine products depending on regional conditions. With a vineyard area of about 842 000 hectares and production of some 51 million hectolitres per year, Italy is one of Europe's largest and most important wine producers. The best winegrowing regions are Tuscany, Piedmont, Lombardy, Trentino and Friuli. You can use our interactive map to learn more about the wine region in Italy that interests you.

Italy's top wine regions

Wines produced in Italy's wine regions

Viticulture in Italy focuses primarily on red wine. The best red wines are powerful, with a wide range of flavours and ageing potential. White wine production technology improved considerably in the 1980s, and today dry white wines are produced by reductive methods. Sparkling Asti spumante and dessert wines such as Marsala are also well-known. Many winegrowers are experimenting with new grape varieties.
Information about quality is provided by the quality levels introduced to Italian winegrowing as part of the regulation of the EU wine market:
  • Vino is wine of the most basic quality level, corresponding to the former designation Vino da Tavola (table wine).
  • IGP or (formerly) IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) denotes country wine.
  • DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) stands for highest-quality wines. Earlier terms – DOC and DOCG – are also used as alternatives.

Popular wines from Italy

Winegrowers & wineries in Italy