Apulia Wine Region History and Culture
Grape vines had been in Apulia since earlier times, but it was Greek settlement that brought wine to the region in the 8th century B.C. Upon setting, they not only began producing wine but they brought a couple of their own grape varieties as well, diversifying the area [source: Di Wine Taste].
If the Greeks deserve credit for bringing wine to Apulia and many other regions, the Romans deserve credit for spreading wine around the world. When they took control of the region in the 4th century B.C, one of the first things the Romans did was build roads [source: MDM Wines]. It wasn't long before wines from Apulia spread throughout the Empire and people began to take notice. Half way through the next century, a seaport was built at Brindisi, a town on Italy's eastern shore, and the wines of Apulia spread even farther throughout the world as they made their way across the Mediterranean.
During the Middle Ages, the wine industry in Apulia took a hit. Luckily, wine was important in churches and monasteries so monks and religious leaders became experts in viticulture. Without them, wine production may have come to a screeching halt and techniques that had been perfected over the course of centuries could have been lost. Instead, wine production in Apulia persevered and in the 14th century, the export of wine from the region was thriving. So many wines were coming out of Apulia that it came to be known by many as "Europe's wine cellar" [source: Demetri]. However, the region was known for the quantity of wine it was producing rather than quality. As long as the wines were turning a profit, no one seemed to care.
Then in the 1800s, many of Italy's vineyards were devastated by phylloxera, a tiny grape-destroying insect, and Apulia stepped in to soften the blow. The huge amount of wine they were making helped fill voids throughout Italy and even France. Apulian wines were being rediscovered and for a brief period, their quality improved. Unfortunately it wouldn't last. Phylloxera eventually found its way into the region, stopping Apulia's newfound momentum [source: Di Wine Taste]. In an effort to bounce back from the catastrophe, new varieties of grapes were brought in and wine makers upped their production. Sadly, their desperation even led to lower quality standards and wines suffered.
In recent years, more quality wines have begun to come out of Apulia, a trend wine producers in the region hope to continue.