The region (also short Friuli) with the capital Trieste is located in the extreme northeast of Italy. It borders Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east. The Friuli region is the largest part of the region and includes the provinces of Pordenone and Udine, parts of Gorizia (but not Trieste), the province of Belluno and 11 municipalities of the province of Venice in Veneto. The area has always been a borderland with alternating rule under Rome, Byzantium, Venice and the Hapsburg Empire. In 181 B.C. the Romans founded the colony of Aquilieia and brought their wine culture with them. However, they already found and further developed a viticulture founded by the Celts, as many archaeological finds testify. Julius Caesar (100-44 B.C.) then extended his rule, and the name Julian (Giulia) goes back to him. In 53 B.C. he founded the city of Forum Iulii (Julius's marketplace) (today's Cividale), from which Friuli was born.
The Greek author Strabo (63 B.C. to 28 A.D.) reports that the fertile plain with the city of Aquileia produced wine in abundance, so that the neighbouring peoples (Carnians, Japydians, Pannonians and Illyrians) came to buy it. The Roman author Pliny the Elder (23-79) reports on the famous ancient wine Pucinum, which was even delivered to the court of Emperor Augustus (63 BC to 14 AD). Aquileia, which still exists today near the Adriatic coast, was the second most important city of the empire after Rome, because all trade routes to the north were controlled from here. In the 15th century, the Republic of Venice, with its galleys dominating the entire Mediterranean, conquered the western part of the large area, while the eastern part, separated by the river Judrio, around the now Slovenian city of Gorizia (Goricia) was long under the rule of the Habsburg Empire. This separation has had an impact on viticulture to this day, with a west dominated by red wine varieties and an east dominated by white wine varieties.
The vineyards cover about 24,000 hectares. Until the mid-1960s, about 80% of the red wines were still produced mainly from Merlot in simple quality. Thanks to modern methods such as chilled fermentation, Friuli has developed into the Italian white wine centre in just one generation. The full-bodied white wines are considered the best in Italy. Thousands of hectares of vineyards with autochthonous varieties have been cleared and planted with international varieties. Friuli is at the forefront of vine breeding, over 5ß% of the young vines planted in Italy come from vine nurseries in the region.