With its ideal climate and fertile lands producing some of the highest quality grapes in the world, excellent wine flows freely in Italy from Tuscany’s famous Sangiovese to the world-renowned Prosecco from Veneto. But while some wine regions in the country are more well-known than others, there are more than 20 regions across Italy growing hundreds of grape varietals – all contributing to Italy’s reputation as one of the largest and oldest wine producers in the world.
Next time you visit Italy, dig deeper into Italy’s incredible historic wine culture and explore some of the lesser-known vineyards dotted across the length and breadth of the country. Here are a few wine regions to add to your radar.
On Italy’s southern peninsula between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas, Calabria’s first vineyards are centuries old and are known for preserving many of Italy’s less well-known indigenous varieties. Red wines are most suited to Calabria’s climate, accounting for around 90% of the wine produced in the region, mainly coming from the Gaglioppo grape variety. One of the oldest and most famous wines from Calabria is Ciro, famous for its strong and fruity flavours. You can visit most of the wineries around Calabria to enjoy authentic wine-tasting experiences and learn about the history of production in the region – all while enjoying the unique mountainous southern landscape.
North of Rome and bordering the more popular wine region of Tuscany, Umbria produces some of the country’s most underrated wines which complement the region’s many gastronomic delights. Home to the stunning lakes of Tresimeno and Corbara, and characterised by hills and mountains, the microclimates of Umbria ensure many different grape varieties thrive in the region.
The main red grape varieties in Umbria include Sangiovese, Merlot, Sagrantino, and Barbera, while the main white grapes are Verdello, Grechetto, and Trebbiano. Amongst your visits to the rural wineries of Umbria, the gothic city of Orvieto is well worth visiting, nestled among the vineyards and with the Cathedral of Orvieto at its heart. Cascate delle Marmore – one of the highest and most powerful waterfalls in Europe – is also well worth visiting during your time in Umbria.
In northwest Italy, south of Piemonte, the coastal landscape is not only home to incredible beaches and hiking trails but also the Cinque Terre and Riveria Ligure di Ponente wine-producing areas. This region is a real treat for visiting wine enthusiasts who are keen to experience the more artisan side of winemaking at some of Italy’s smallest wineries.
Liguria is mostly known for its white wines produced from the Vermentino grape and anyone lucky enough to visit should make the most of their time here – wines produced in Liguria can be difficult to get outside the region and almost impossible to find internationally.
4. Le Marche
In central Italy with the Adriatic Sea to the west and Apennine mountains to the east, Le Marche is one of the country’s most diverse wine-producing regions with lots to explore, from its many vineyards to old towns and medieval villages. There are around 18,000 hectares of vineyards in Le Marche, mostly known for their white wines produced from the Trebbiano and Verdicchio grape varieties.
Red wines typically come from the southern area of Le Marche with varieties including Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Vernaccia, and Lacrima. While you’re in Le Marche exploring some of the many family-run wineries, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Renaissance town of Urbino, the harbour town of Ancona, or some of the region’s impressive caves and gorges.
Add these wine regions to your travel list – you won’t be disappointed!