Winemaking in Abruzzo goes back to the sixth century BC, when the Etruscans took up the task of introducing viniculture here. Several centuries later, it is thought that Hannibal drank the wines of Abruzzo from Teramo as he and his Carthaginian army crossed the Alps. Today, Abruzzo is Italy’s fifth most productive wine region, encompassing 32,725 hectares of vines. The dominant grapes here are the white Trebbiano and the red Montepulciano. There has also been a recent increase in the growth of Pecorino. Abruzzo is best known for its rich and complex red wines.
Abruzzo is between the Marche and Puglia, and could be described as one of the most isolated winemaking regions in Italy. It is also one of the largest and most diverse, with vineyards up to 100 kilometres apart. To the east of Abruzzo is the long coastline of the Adriatic Sea and to the west the rugged mountains of the Apennines, which include Italy’s highest peak, Gran Sasso. Most of the vineyards can be found growing in the hilly areas, with around 75 per cent of them in the Chieti province. Others are largely set in Pecara, Teramo and L’Aquila.
There are a variety of terroirs in Abruzzo, with coastal areas generally more warm and dry than inland, which has a more continental climate. There is a large amount of sunshine throughout the year and good rainfall. The high elevations of the hills also provide cool air to flow downwards, moderating the temperature of the vines below. Soils of clay and calcareous rock are common here.
The vast majority of vines in Abruzzo are grown on pergolas, with the grapes hanging below to keep them cool and to keep the leaves soaking up sunshine. Other vines are planted in French style rows.
There has been a recent resurgence in Abruzzo winemaking, a place where 80 per cent of the wine is made by co-operatives. More growers are now experimenting with the vinification of their own grapes, rather than selling them on in bulk. As a result, the export market here has recently started to grow.
Abruzzo has one DOCG denomination, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane, and three DOCs, Cerasuolo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (red), Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (white) and Controguerra.