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Comprehensive description of all European growing areas, their grape varieties, traditions and legal rules with maps.

Description to Italy

Italy is one of the oldest wine-growing countries, the beginnings go back at least to before 1,000 BC. It was at this time that the Etruscans appeared in central Italy, settling areas in the four regions of today's Abruzzo, Lazio, Tuscany and Umbria. The origins of Italian wine culture lie above all in the Greek colonisation, which brought Greek wine culture to the peninsula, beginning in the 10th century BC on the island of Sicily as well as Campania and Calabria. The Greeks brought many of their grape varieties with them and named the ideal land for viticulture Oinotria (land of vines raised on stakes). The Phoenicians (Punic), who later became the great enemy, also had an influence at this time, establishing bases in Sicily and the Mediterranean. From the 6th century B.C. onwards, a lively trade began with the Celts in Gaul (France), who imported considerable quantities of wine from Upper and Central Italy.

The Romans learned from all these peoples and made winemaking a high art. In the 3rd century B.C. the vine was widespread everywhere and in the 1st century B.C. the wine culture reached a peak. The city of Pompeii was the wine trading centre and main supplier to Rome until its destruction by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 BC. The most famous ancient wines at that time were Caecuber, Falerner and Surrentiner. The Romans planted vineyards in the newly won provinces in what are now France, Spain, Portugal, Germany and England. Wine became an import and export article and the Romans already produced wooden barrels for it, having learned this from the Celts (Gauls).

Many Roman authors wrote very extensive works on viticulture and wine culture, some of them very comprehensive, thus enabling a very accurate picture to be drawn. The spectrum ranges from purely scientific (doctrinal) writings to poetic descriptions and descriptions of the eating and drinking culture. Satyricon, a depiction of the customs of the Roman upper class, deserves special mention. The most important authors in chronological order are Cato the Elder (234-149 BC), Virgil (70-19 BC), Horace (65-8 BC), Ovid (43 BC to 8 AD), Columella (1st half of the 1st century), Petronius (14-66), Pliny the Elder (23-79) and Palladius (4th century). Wine became the cultural bearer of the first rank, in continuation of the Greek Dionysus cult the wine god Bacchus enjoyed great veneration. The Romans were very creative in their winemaking techniques. One speciality was aromatising to make the wine more tasteful and longer lasting.

Sparkling wine was already produced by storing the amphorae in cold spring water (fermentation interruption). In the first century A.D., the cultivation of grape varieties was intensively studied and attempts were made to find the most suitable vine for each soil. Many of today's autochthonous vines are descended from the ancient grape varieties cultivated at that time. Due to the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and the turmoil of the migration of peoples, wine culture fell into oblivion and was only cultivated further by monasteries of the Roman Catholic Church through the production of the sacramental wine.

There was then a great upswing at the beginning of the Renaissance in the 14th century. To revive viticulture, Pope Paul III. (1468-1549) took French wine under his spell and had overviews of Italian wine made. Already in 1716, under Grand Duke Cosimo III. (1642-1723) from the family of the Medici in Tuscany, the zone for Chianti was determined, Italy was thus one of the first countries with a designation of origin. But it was not until the 19th century, when wine types such as Barolo, Brunello and Chianti were created with French help, that a new beginning was made.

Wine-growing regions

The soil is characterised by great diversity, but despite local differences, the climate has common factors of influence. The Alps shield against cold north winds, and the Apennines form a 1,500 kilometre long weather divide from Piedmont in the north to Sicily in the south. The Mediterranean Sea to the east and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west of the boot as well as the numerous rivers and lakes have a decisive influence. The best regions have temperatures between 12 and 16 °C, sufficient snow and rainfall in winter and warm to hot summers with sunshine until late autumn. The vineyards are planted from sea level up to 1,000 metres. The 20 wine-growing regions correspond to the political region boundaries:

Region (German)

Region (Ital.)



Abruzzo Abruzzo L'Aquila 33.000
Valle d'Aosta Valle d'Aosta Aosta 500
Apulia Puglia Bari 88.000
Basilicata Basilicata or Lucania Potenza 4.000
Emilia-Romagna Emilia-Romagna Bologna 52.000
Friuli Venezia Giulia Friuli-Venezia Giulia Trieste 24.000
Calabria Calabria Catanzaro 9.500
Campania Campania Naples 24.000
Lazio Latio Roma 19.500
Liguria Liguria Genoa 1.500
Lombardy Lombardia Milan 22.500
Brands Marche Ancona 17.500
Molise Molise Campobasso 6.000
Piedmont Piemonte Torino 47.500
Sardinia Sardegna formerly Tinakria Cagliari 26.500
Sicily Sicily Palermo 101.000
Tuscany Toscana Florence 58.000
Trentino-Alto Adige Trentino-Alto Adige Trento 15.500
Umbria Umbria Perugia 13.000
Veneto Veneto Venetia 80.000

Italien - Karte

Grape varieties and vineyards

At the beginning of the 1990s, the area under vines was still well over one million hectares, but this was reduced by around 200,000 hectares as a result of subsidised European Union grubbing-up programmes. In 2012, 45.6 million hectolitres of wine were produced from 713,000 hectares. This puts Italy at the top of the world rankings and joins France and Spain in first place (see under Wine production volumes). Wine is grown from the north of the country (Trentino-Alto Adige) to the deepest south (Sicily) and on the islands in the Mediterranean Sea. However, the over DOC and DOCG zones account for only about one fifth of wine production. There are about two million grape producers, 340,000 cellars and 45,000 wine bottlers. With over 2,000 different grape varieties, Italy has the most in the world, not a few of which are of ancient (Greek) origin. But "only" 400 of these are officially approved. The 2010 grape variety mirror with the top 45 (ex Kym Anderson):

Grape variety


Synonyms / Italian name


Sangiovese red Brunello, Prugnolo Gentile, Nielluccio 71.619
Montepulciano red Cordisco, Morellone 34.824
Catarratto Bianco white C. B. Comune, C. B. Lucido 34.794
Merlot red - 28.042
Trebbiano Toscano white Trebbiano di Cesena, Tália, Ugni Blanc 22.702
Barbera red B. Amaro, B. d'Asti, B. Dolce 20.524
Chardonnay white - 19.709
Glera white until 2009 Prosecco, Teran Bijeli 18.255
Pinot gris white Pinot Grigio 17.281
Nero d'Avola red Calabrese, Niureddu Calavrisi 16.595
Trebbiano Romagnolo white T. della Fiamma, T. di Romagna 15.893
Garganega white Grecanico Dorato 15.375
Cabernet sauvignon red Cabernet 13.724
Tribidrag / Zinfandel red Primitivo 12.234
Muscat Blanc white Moscato Bianco, Moscato Reale 11.506
Negroamaro red Abbruzzi, Purcinara 11.460
Trebbiano Giallo white Greco di Velletri, T. dei Castelli, T. di Spagna 10.664
Aglianico red Aglianico del Vulture 9.910
Malvasia Bianca di Candia white M. Bianca, M. di Candia, M. Rossa 9.231
Corvina Veronese red C. Comune, C. Gentile, C. Nostrana, Cruina 7.477
Syrah red - 6.739
Garnacha tinta red Cannonau, Tai Rosso, Vernaccia Nera 6.372
Cabernet franc red Cabernet Frank 6.314
Grillo white Ariddu, Riddu, Rossese Bianco 6.295
Inzolia white Ansonica, Insolia 6.133
Dolcetto red Dolcetto Nero, Nibièu, Nibiò, Ormeasco 6.128
Croatina red Bonarda, Nebbiolo di Gattinara, Neretto 5.684
Nebbiolo red Chiavennasca, N. del Piemonte, Picotèner 5.536
Trebbiano d'Abruzzo white T. Abruzzo, T. Campolese, T. di Teramo 5.091
Vermentino white Favorita, Pigato 5.046
Pinot noir red Pinot noir 5.046
Lambrusco Salamino red Lambrusco Galassi, Lambrusco di Santa Croce 5.003
Ancellotta red A. di Massenzatico, Ancellotti, Lancellotta 4.343
Gaglioppo red G. di Cirò, Galloppo, Lacrima Nera 4.214
Blanc sauvignon white Pellegrina, Sauvignon Bianco 3.744
Verdicchio Bianco white Trebbiano di Lugana, Trebbiano di Soave 3.526
Pinot blanc white Pinot bianco 3.086
Falanghina white F. Beneventana, F. Flegrea 3.037
Cortese white Corteis, Cortese Bianca 2.953
Sauvignonasse white Friulano, Tai, Tuchì (formerly Tocai Friulano) 2.911
General Mascalese red Mascalese Nera, Nerello Calabrese 2.883
Lambrusco Grasparossa red Lambrusco di Castelvetro, Scorzamara 2.726
Biancame white B. dalla Forcella, B. Maschio, B. Nostrano 2.599
Nero di Troy red Somarello, Uva di Troia 2.572
Rondinella red Nessuno Conosciuto 2.479

Wine Law

Until after the Second World War, the focus was more on mass. From the 1960s onwards, a profound change took place. The first area in which the "Italian wine miracle" made itself felt was Chianti-Classico in Tuscany, where a radical break with the past was made. The Antinori, Frescobaldi and Ricasoli wineries in this region, and later Ca' del Bosco in Lombardy, made a decisive contribution to this. In the last third of the 20th century Italian wine underwent an extremely positive change. A new wine law introduced the new quality denomination "Denominazione di Origine Controllata" (DOC) in 1963, which made a decisive contribution to quality improvement. In 1966 Vernaccia di San Gimignano was the first DOC wine to be awarded this designation. Only in 1980 did the highest level "Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita" (DOCG) follow. Further changes came in 1992 with the "Goria Law", named after the Minister of Agriculture Giovanni Goria (1943-1994), which introduced the IGT level.

Wine categories: In August 2009, the EU wine market regulation became valid for all member countries with fundamental changes in wine designations and quality levels. There are the following new designations or quality levels (see also detailed under quality system):

  • Vino (formerly Vino da Tavola or table wine) = wine
  • IGP or the alternative old designation IGT = Landwein
  • DOP or the alternatively possible old designations DOC and DOCG = quality wine

In April 2010, the new national wine law came into force, replacing Decree No 164 of 1992. It was not content with merely adapting to the new EU law, but made a few substantial changes. The old and new designations may be used alternatively or together. This option exists in order to avoid a "flattening" of the DOCG to the DOC, since both would be unified if DOPs were used exclusively, and DOCG must continue to take precedence over DOC in terms of quality. In summary, there are now stricter and more clearly formulated regulations.

Vino: The old designation "VdT" (Vino da Tavola) is now, as in general, prohibited in all EU member states. There are wines without and with indication of the grape varieties and/or vintage.

IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) or IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta)
The local wines must undergo an analytical test (a sensory test is only carried out for DOC/DOCG wines). The wine must have a typical, geographically determined character. The requirements are below the DOC/DOCG or DOP level. The areas are usually much larger and sometimes cover entire regions. From the 1980s onwards, the high quality of some IGT wines from Tuscany led to the term Super Tuscan. There are a total of 118 IGT/IGP wines with about 30% of production. One area can cover an entire region such as Tuscany.

DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) or DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta)
These quality wines with a controlled designation of origin must be processed and aged from specified grape varieties according to specified quantities and methods (see below). Some DOC zones produce only one wine, others several in different colours, grape varieties or types. As a German-speaking equivalent, the designation QbA (quality wine of certain growing regions) is permitted for South Tyrolean wines. The 332 DOC wines account for about 25%. They are listed under the regions.

DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) or DOP: These quality wines with controlled and guaranteed designation of origin represent the highest Italian "class of honour", which guarantees the authenticity of particularly highly valued wines. The 74 DOCG wines account for only about 5% of production. For a complete list see below.

Grape varieties: for DOC/DOCG or DOP wines (quality wines), only grape varieties authorised in the respective areas may be used. For IGT/IGP wines (local wines), varieties under observation are also authorised. They must be mentioned in the production regulations, although this can also be done in percentage terms with a tolerance of 1% (previously only the composition in the vineyards was prescribed). Table grapes may also be vinified; the previous ban has been lifted.

Further specifications: In addition to grape varieties, these are bottle shape, minimum ageing times in barrels and bottle, minimum values for alcohol content, acidity and total extract (dry extract), as well as colour and aroma. A sensory and analytical test is carried out before marketing. It is also possible to indicate the subzone (sottozona), municipality (comune), district (frazione), microclimate zone (microzona), winery (Fattoria, Cascina or Podere) and the vineyard plot (Vigna) for wines of exceptional quality. In this way the importance of the origin is even more emphasized.

Additional quality designations: Three terms are used to indicate a special quality of quality wines. The term Classico designates traditional areas of origin or core zones within a DOC/DOCG or DOP area that are better or more favoured in terms of soil type and climate. For example, there is a DOCG area Chianti and a DOCG area Chianti-Classico. With higher alcohol content, lower yield limits and/or longer maturing time, the terms Superiore and/or Riserva are permitted.

DOCG wines

The DOCG wines generally represent the absolute top of the Italian wines. If wines have maintained their quality for at least five years, they are awarded DOC status and, at the earliest after another five years, DOCG status. In theory, a single, outstanding branded wine can also achieve DOCG status if it "brings honour to Italy", but this has not yet happened. The very first wine classified as DOCG was Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from Tuscany in 1980, followed in the same year by Barbaresco, Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino. It took a relatively long time until 1987, when Albana di Romagna from Emilia-Romagna was crowned as the first white wine. The first sparkling and sparkling wines were Asti Spumante and Moscato d'Asti from Piedmont in 1994. The list of the 75 DOCG:

DOCG area (alternative name)


Main grape variety


Aglianico del Taburno red Aglianico Campania
Aglianico del Vulture Superiore red Aglianico Basilicata
Albana di Romagna white Albana Emilia-Romagna
Alta Langa white, rosé Chardonnay, PN Piedmont
Amarone della Valpolicella red Corvina, Corvinone Veneto
Asti (Asti Spumante) white Moscato Bianco Piedmont
Bagnoli Friularo (Friularo di Bagnoli) red Raboso Piave Veneto
Barbaresco red Nebbiolo Piedmont
Barbera d'Asti red Barbera Piedmont
Barbera del Monferrato Superiore red Barbera Piedmont
Bardolino Superiore red Corvina Veneto
Barolo red Nebbiolo Piedmont
Brachetto d'Acqui (Acqui) red Brachetto Piedmont
Brunello di Montalcino red Brunello Tuscany
Cannelino di Frascati white Malvasia varieties Lazio
Carmignano red Sangiovese Tuscany
Castel del Monte Bombino Nero red Bombino Nero Apulia
Castel del Monte Nero di Troia Riserva red Nero di Troy Apulia
Castel del Monte Rosso Riserva red Nero di Troy Apulia
Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Riserva white Verdicchio Brands
Cerasuolo di Vittoria red Nero d'Avola Sicily
Cesareanese del Piglio red Cesanese Lazio
Chianti red Sangiovese Tuscany
Chianti Classico red Sangiovese Tuscany
Colli Asolani Prosecco white Glera Veneto
Colli Bolognesi Pignoletto white Pignoletto Emilia-Romagna
Colli di Conegliano white, red various Veneto
Colli Euganei Fior d'Arancio white Moscato Veneto
Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit white Picolit Friuli
Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco white Glera Veneto
Conero (Rosso Conero Riserva) red Montepulciano Brands
Dogliani red Dolcetto Piedmont
Dolcetto di Diano d'Alba red Dolcetto Piedmont
Dolcetto di Ovada Superiore (Ovada) red Dolcetto Piedmont
Elba Aleatico Passito (Aleatico P. dell'Elba) red Aleatico Tuscany
Erbaluce di Caluso white Erbaluce Friuli, Veneto
Fiano di Avellino white Fiano Campania
Franciacorta white, rosé Chardonnay, PN Lombardy
Frascati Superiore white Malvasia varieties Lazio
Gattinara red Nebbiolo Piedmont
Gavi (Cortese di Gavi, Gavi di Gavi) white Cortese Piedmont
Ghemme red Nebbiolo Piedmont
Greco di Tufo white Greco Bianco Campania
Lison white Tai/Friulano Friuli, Veneto
Montecucco Sangiovese red Sangiovese Tuscany
Montefalco Sagrantino red Sagrantino Umbria
Montello Rosso red Merlot, Cab. Franc Veneto
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane red Montepulciano Abruzzo
Morellino di Scansano red Morellino Tuscany
Moscato d'Asti white Moscato Bianco Piedmont
Moscato di Scanzo red Moscato di Scanzo Lombardy
Nice red Barbera Piemonte
Offida white, red various Brands
Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico white, rosé Pinot noir Lombardy
Piave Malanotte (Malanotte del Piave) red Raboso Piave Veneto
Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale red Primitivo Apulia
Ramandolo white Verduzzo Friuli
Recioto della Valpolicella red Corvina, Rondinella Veneto
Recioto di Gambellara white Garganega Veneto
Recioto di Soave white Garganega Veneto
Roero white, red Arneis, Nebbio Piedmont
Rosazzo white Friulano Friuli
Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato red Ruchè Piedmont
Sforzato di Valtellina (Sfursat) red Chiavenasca Lombardy
Soave Superiore white Garganega Veneto
Suvereto red various Tuscany
Taurasi red Aglianico Campania
Terre Alfieri white, red Arneis, Nebbiolo Piedmont
Terre Tollesi (Tullum) white, red Montepulciano and others Abruzzo
Torgiano Rosso Riserva red Sangiovese Umbria
Val di Cornia Rosso (Rosso della Val di Cornia) red Sangiovese, CS Tuscany
Valtellina Superiore red Nebbiolo Lombardy
Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva white Verdicchio Brands
Vermentino di Gallura white Vermentino Sardinia
Vernaccia di San Gimignano white Vernaccia Tuscany
Vernaccia di Serrapetrona red Vernaccia Nera Brands
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano red Sangiovese Tuscany

Institutions, committees and personalities

Among the most influential Italian wine authors or wine critics are Burton Anderson, Daniele Cernilli, Giancarlo Gariglio, Fabio Giavedoni, Luigi Veronelli and Franco Ziliani. They work or publish in many wine magazines and wine guides such as Gambero Rosso, Slow Wine and Veronelli-Guide. The most important international wine fair is Vinitaly.

Map: From TUBS - Own work,
edited elements from Bergamo, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

In this section you will find
currently 142,952 Wines and 22,855 Producers, including 2,287 classified producers.
Rating system Their sources in Wine Guide Wine Samples