Vine cultivation has a fascinating history that embraces centuries of tradition and passion all over the world. Although Italy, France and some European countries have long dominated the wine scene, recent decades have seen the growth of viticulture in new regions. Today, the world's vineyard covers almost 8 million hectares, with Europe holding over 60% of this area.
In the 1980s, both Italy and France began to reduce yields per hectare, favoring quality over quantity. This change in approach has resulted in an annual production of around 45-50 million hectoliters in both countries, compared to the 280 million hectoliters produced globally. Even the latest harvests have confirmed this trend, with Italy recording a production of around 46 million hectoliters in 2008, compared to 54 million hectoliters at the beginning of the millennium.
Despite the turnaround in Europe, some non-European countries have experienced a significant increase in wine production. Thanks to the expansion of the areas planted with vines, these new realities are emerging in the world panorama of wine. However, it is the Italian regions such as Veneto, Puglia, Emilia Romagna, Sicily, Abruzzo, Tuscany and Piedmont that dominate the ranking of wine production in the country, each with its own viticultural peculiarities and fascinating stories to tell.
In the world of wine, quality has become increasingly important, as a competent and demanding public seeks wines that offer a balance between quality and price. The choice of the rootstock and the vine, the training system and the cultivation techniques are all crucial factors in obtaining a final result of excellence. However, as is often the case in life, wine has its own unique character which can be affected by various natural elements such as sun, wind, rain and frost. It is this complexity that makes wine a fascinating and unique product in each harvest.
But where does Vitis vinifera, the current wine vine known as European vine, come from? The first wild vines of Vitis silvestris date back to 60 million years ago, while Vitis vinifera made its appearance much later, probably around one million years ago. Some fossils found in Tuscany and Fiano Romano testify to its presence over time. Originally from South-East Asia, this wine vine initially spread in the milder areas of the Mediterranean basin and Asia Minor, but only later did global warming allow its growth in more northern areas as well.
Italy has a long winemaking tradition dating back thousands of years. While the cultivation of vines to produce wine made its way into the area around 2000 BC, the Etruscans, as early as the eighth century BC, used trees to support vine shoots. The history of Vitis vinifera has been marked by adversities such as the attack of powdery mildew in the 19th century and the phylloxera infestation which destroyed 85% of the European viticultural heritage. Only thanks to the grafting of European vines on roots of American origin, resistant to phylloxera, was it possible to reconstruct the vineyard of the old continent.
Today, in the world of wine, about fifty varieties of Vitis vinifera can be found spread across all continents, even though in reality their number is much vaster. Each variety brings with it its own unique history, flavor and personality, offering consumers a wide range of options to explore and enjoy.
So whether you're an experienced wine lover or a curious novice, immerse yourself in this fascinating world and let yourself be seduced by the flavours, aromas and stories that each bottle has to offer. Explore the Italian wine regions and beyond, discover the different cultivation techniques and enjoy the pleasure of a good glass of wine, knowing that behind every sip there is a long tradition and the passionate work of the men and women who have made all this possible .
Remember, wine is an ongoing discovery and each bottle is a journey that can surprise and delight you in ways you never imagined. So, raise your glass and toast to the joy of exploring the wonderful world of wine!