Delving into the depths of Italy’s winemaking heritage, a journey unfolds that spans over 4000 years. The Ancient Greeks, recognizing the potential for grape cultivation and wine production, named the Italian peninsula Oenotria, or “The land of wine,” upon their arrival in the 8th century BC. Today, Italy and France share the top spots as the world’s leading wine producers, with annual outputs ranging between 40 and 50 million hectoliters each, collectively contributing a significant portion to global production. In this article, we explore the rich tapestry of Italy’s viticultural legacy and the artistry that flows from vine to bottle.
Today, Italy and France are the world’s top wine producers – each producing between 40 and 50 million hectoliters per year, which counts for roughly 1/3 to 1/4 of global production. Both countries alternate in their top ranking as their wine production varies from year to year. Recently, Italy began to hold a slight lead over France, whereas Spain ranks third.
Italians rank fifth in the world for wine consumption with an average of 45 liters per capita. Vatican City is number one in the world for per capita wine consumption, averaging around 74 liters per person per year.
Italy counts over 1 million vineyards, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has authorized over 350 grape varieties. By comparison, France’s wine is made from around 60 kinds of grapes.
The two most popular types of wine in Italy are Vino Bianco (white wine) – including Pinot Grigio, Soave, and Vermentino – and Vino Rosso (red wine), including Chianti, Barolo, and Amarone.
To ensure the quality and authenticity of its wines, Italy has an official system of wine classification. It uses four basic categories, ranked below from the lowest to the highest level:
- Vini (Table Wines), informally called ‘generic wines,’ can be produced anywhere in the EU. Their label only indicates the color of the wine but doesn’t include any information about the geographical origin of the grape varieties used or the vintage.
- Vini Varietali (Varietal Wines) are generic wines that are made mostly (at least 85%) from one authorized ‘international’ grape variety (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah) or entirely from two or more of them. Their label may indicate grape variety and vintage.
- Vini IGP (Wines with Protected Geographical Indication), also known as IGT (Typical Geographical Indication). These wines are produced in a specific Italian territory and are subject to precise regulations on authorized grape varieties, viticultural and vinification practices, organoleptic and chemico-physical characteristics, labeling instructions, etc.
- Vini DOP (Wines with Protected Designation of Origin) includes two sub-categories: Vini DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) and Vini DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin). DOC wines must have been IGP for at least 5 years. They are generally sourced from smaller regions within a certain IGP territory that are known for their unique climatic and geological characteristics, exceptional quality, and originality of local winemaking traditions. They are also required to follow stricter production regulations than IGP wines. If a wine has been a DOC for at least 10 years and passes more stringent analysis, including a tasting by a designated committee, it can be promoted to DOCG. In addition to fulfilling the requisites for DOC wines, DOCG wines must also demonstrate superior commercial success. Currently, there are 332 DOCs and 73 DOCGs, making a total of 405 DOPs as of 2016.
Italy counts no less than 20 distinct wine regions! Every region prides itself on its own unique geography, climate, and grape varieties – which translates into the quality and flavor of the wines they produce. For those captivated by the allure of owning a piece of this winemaking history, Italian Property Finder can help you find your exclusive vineyard estate. This is a unique chance to experience the beauty and art of Italian winemaking. Whether situated in the picturesque hills of Chianti or commanding views over the serene waters of Sicily, these properties not only offer a residence but also provide a unique chance to become an integral part of Italy’s storied viticulture heritage.