If you’ve paid attention to wine labels, you may have seen the term ‘vecchie viti’ (old vines). In Italy, there are indigenous vines that are more than 100 years old. They often produce outstanding wines. According to Wine Enthusiast, “when handled well, healthy, old vines lend a level of concentration and character never achieved by younger vines.”
Here’s a look at some of Italy’s oldest vines and vineyards.
This isn’t just Italy’s oldest vine, it is one of the oldest in the world – and the largest in Europe. Located in Tisens, South Tyrol, it is 350 years old, and its branches form a 300-square-meter pergola. It produces a white wine that goes by the same name as the vine, Versoaln.
Fiano di Lapio
Irpinia is home to a 200-year-old vine which produces a grape variety that the Romans called ‘apiana’ because its sugary pulp attracted bees (api in Italian).
Hailing from the southern region of Calabria, this is a 200-year-old vine of the pizzuttello variety (white grape), a favorite of the Romans.
Piedmont’s oldest vine, with an age comprised between 150 and 200 years old, has a one-meter girth and is used to produce table wine.
Fans of Roman history will love to learn about this vineyard on the slopes of the Etna volcano: it is more than 100 years old, and produces three types of ancestral grapes: Corinto bianco, which, in Roman times, was used to make an aphrodisiac wine popular in brothels; Corinto nero, the wine of gladiators; Corinto rosa, once used for Dionysian rites.
San Biagio Faenza
There are only four plants left of this uva morta variety found in the plains of Romagna, and it risks extinction; currently, they are used to make a limited production of passito wine.
Not even the 2016 earthquake that struck central Italy was able to tear down this 100-year-old vineyard producing Pecorino, an Italian wine grape variety.
The Tri Mani vine, in the province of Reggio Calabria in southern Italy, is 80 years old and is the only one in the world to produce Trifera, a variety that is harvested three times a year: end of September, mid-December and mid-July.
The oldest vineyard in Oltrepò Pavese, it extends over three hectares with 120-year-old varieties of Barbera, Croatina and Uva rara grapes.
On the sandy terrain of the Sulcis on the island of Sardinia, several vineyards have survived the phylloxera invasion that almost destroyed all of Europe’s vineyards between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. They are used to produce Carignano wine.