Grape growing and the cultivation of wine have been central to the agriculture of Tuscany for nearly 3,000 years. When grape vines were first introduced to the region, they grew wild and produced an incredible abundance of grapes. In fact, the Etruscans were able to harvest so many grapes that they sold them in markets across the seas creating a great source of revenue for the region. Although wine production in Tuscany was cut nearly in half over the last 50 years of the 20th century, the quality of wine being produced increased substantially and wine production continues to be an important part of the region's agriculture.
Many people aren't aware of Tuscany's shear size. With a land mass of 8,880 square miles (23,000 square kilometers) Tuscany consists of a number of distinct wine regions and many different climate types. Overall, the region can be described as having a mild Mediterranean climate. Small variations are a result of geographical location. For example, thanks to regular rainfall, the hills have milder summers than the valleys, which can be very hot in the summer months. Winters are mild with sunny days, but have the ability to get very cold at night, especially in the hills [source: Choose Tuscany].
As is the case throughout much of Italy, the climate and soil type create ideal growing conditions for a number of different grape varieties. The region never gets too wet and it never gets to dry. This balance is an important factor in the area's ability to grow grapes. Sunny hillsides throughout Tuscany provide perfect locations for vineyards, never getting too hot or too cold. It's as though the region was designed with the cultivation of grapes in mind [source: Italy Travel To Tuscany].
The most well-known and distinguishable varieties of grapes that grow in the region are the noble Sangiovese and Vernaccia. Sangiovese, a red grape, is the main varietal used in the production of Chianti, and Vernaccia, a white grape, is responsible for giving the region its first Denomination of Origin. Another notable white is the Trebbiano grape, used to make Vin Santo, the "holy wine" [source: Wine Country]. Other grapes grown in Tuscany are Vernaccia, Canaiolo, Ciligiolo, Masseretta, Mammolo, Malvasia, Moscadella and Vermentino.
Read on to learn how all those grapes come together to make some famous wine.