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Blog: Autochthonous grape varieties of Italy 3/4

How old does a variety have to be to be considered autochthonous? Many Italian grape varieties have been cultivated in certain regions for 200 years or more. Is that enough to speak of nativeness? Or does a vine have to be proven for 1000, even 2000 years to be considered autochthonous? The question cannot be answered scientifically, nor can the problem be solved by legislative decree. What is decisive is that the variety has been present on the spot for a long time - in expert circles there is often talk of 200 years - and has held its own against all temptations to plant more marketable or more fashionable varieties.

Where do the autochthonous vines come from? Autochthonous does not mean that the origin of the vines must also be in the cultivation area itself, for which they are representative today. Often they have arrived there through detours. Moreover, we know that almost all the varieties cultivated in Italy come from Greece. Greek and Phoenician merchants, when they settled the Mediterranean between 700 and 300 years BC, had brought them from their homeland and planted them in their new colonies in Sicily and in southern Italy. In 'Magna Graecia', as the colonies were then called, these vines found a new habitat and, provided they survived the natural selection process to the present day, mutated into independent varieties.

"I believe that a grape variety can be called autochthonous if people associate it with a particular territory." - Angelo Valentino, viticultural specialist and book author from Umbria

Where the origin of the vine The vine culture that has developed in Italy over the last 2500 years thus originated in Greece. It is true that at that time there were also wild vines in Italy, which grew on trees and from whose fruit the indigenous people of the country produced an alcoholic drink similar to wine. But the descendants of these wild vines have not withstood the biological selection pressure of the following centuries. Climatic disasters, pest infestations, bird damage and other calamities wiped out most of it. But even the vines imported by the Greek colonizers did not in fact come from Greece. They came from Eastern Europe and arrived in Greece only during the colonization of the Greeks in the Eurasian area. If you look for the last link in the evolutionary history of the vine, you will inevitably come to the Black Sea and the Caucasus. There, with great probability, lies the origin of all vitis vinifera vines - that is, our present-day grapevines. 7000 years before Christ, wine was already a luxury foodstuff there, and the grapes from which this wine was pressed contained the genetic codes that we partly find in our modern grape varieties today. - Gerardo

Autochthone Rebsorten Italiens 3/4
NameAutochthonous grape varieties of Italy 3/4