Italian Wine Regions: An Introduction

Italian wine regions and areas can be classified multiple times over, depending on the area, the climate, the history, the grapes, and through an infinite number of other ways. The following description of 7 Italian regions is meant to provide a basic guide, which will be supplemented in articles to come. The 7 regions consist of Veneto and Piedmont (to the North), Tuscany, Campania, Apulia, and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily (to the South).

Veneto accounts for over 20 DOC zones and a variety of sub-categories. Many of its wines, both sweet (Spumante) and dry, are internationally known. The three most notable are Bardolino, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other respectable wines include the white Bianco di Custoza, the sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a red wine from the Verona province).

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The most appreciated wines in the region come from the provinces of Treviso, Verona, Padova, Venice, and Vicenza. The area around Verona, with its temperate climate, is believed to have cultivated grapes since the Bronze Age.

In Piedmont, there are 46 different DOC and four DOCG areas. It is best known for such award-winning wines like Barbera, Barolo, Barbaresco, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Grignolino, Malvasia and Asti Spumante among others.

One of the unique characteristics of Piedmont is that most of its wines are produced on family estates, made up of relatively small parcels of land. The main grape grown here is the distinguished Nebbiolo, which is the base for the famed Barolo, Barbaresco and Gattinara among others. Its name derives from the word nebbia, or fog. During the ripening time in September, there is a heavy morning fog, causing humidity that provides the grapes an ideal habitat.

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.

Another interesting point about Piedmont was its introduction of Vermouth, which Benedetto Carpano first created in his wine shop near the Turin Stock Exchange. The classic American martini cocktail is named after the famous Italian producer of dry vermouth, Martini & Rossi.