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A glass of history, the wine and the Alps

The healthy fermented beverages appear first in the Neolithic villages, not only for inebriation but also because of their considerable nourishing features. The English word “ale” has the same root of the Latin therm “alimentum”, which means food. The grape-growing hails from the VI millennium BC, in Armenia and in the Caucasus; during the Bronze Age, farmers started to select wild grapevines; at the same time, dated around XVI BC, in South Italy there are archaeological remains, and then the first written documents.

Dionysius of Halicarnassus mentions the Oenotrians, pre-roman people from the land of vines (Oenotria is one of the ancient names of Italian peninsula), settled in the southern regions. Enotròs is the stick supporting the vine. In Sardinia, near Oristano, have been found occurrences about the use of sweet figs to make stable the fermentation.


In Friuli region there were vine varieties near the Neolithic huts, with elder trees, service trees, European cornels and white mulberries. Along the time, in the Alpine area spread the beer and barley based beverages; Pliny the Elder describes the Celtic habit to preserve a sour, inebriating potion in wooden barrels. The Celts used the yeast in bread making; the Ancient Greeks drank wine mixed with sea water, berries and even grated cheese!

The first Italian vine variety is the Lambrusco and is exactly in North Italy that show up the most relevant wine-making techniques, such as the ways to increase the alcohol by volume percentage, even though generally the land of wines is not connected to the Alps: the blueberry mildew, for instance, is needed to cover the grapes, dry the water and boost the sugar concentration. The contemporary technique called “ice wine”, that is leaving the grapes under the snow, has Celtic origins: it gives back sweeter grape berries. According to the roman historian Cassiodorus, the barbarian king of the Visigoths Teodoricus was fond by the wine of Verona, produced with grapes dried on grids before squeezing out.

Two typical northern vine varieties are “uva raetica” and “Riesling”, from the Rhine Valley, common in Camonica Valley too, where the wine was aged inside larch or fir barrels, resinous woods that give a unique flavor to the wine, highly appreciated by the Romans. Strabo tells about huge barrels, as large as a house, in the Raetic area: ultimately, barrels are not a French idea…


The Valley of Landmarks, situated amongst the most renown Franciacorta and Valtellina, is revaluing his wine tradition, at last aware of the potential of his soil, full of minerals and sun. The autochthonous grape variety is the red Erbanno, that yields a lower tannic wine. In 2003 the Camunian wine has achieved the IGT, Indicazione geografica tipica, an Italian classification of wine, recognized by the government that means "Land wine"; IGT wines are labeled with the locality and have to respond to specific requirements.

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