Ultimate Guide to the Basilicata Wine Region

Basilicata Wine Region Agriculture

There's just not a lot of good land for the cultivation of grapes in Basilicata. If it weren't for­ the volcanic soil surrounding Mt. Vulture, there would be almost none at all. Luckily, volcanic soil is perfect for growing grapes. It absorbs heat from the sun's rays throughout the day and then releases it slowly during the night. This keeps grapes from experiencing sharp fluctuations in temperature and protects them from frost, which can damage their quality or ruin a crop entirely.

One of the few advantages Basilicata has to offer besides volcanic soil is a continental climate surrounding Mt. Vulture. It stays cool there, which allows the Aglianico grapes that grow on its slopes to ripen longer. Often the grapes aren't harvested until late October, just before the danger of a frost [source: Awaiting Table]. This late a harvest isn't typical in southern Italy. Basilicata's neighboring regions harvest grapes much earlier, usually in the beginning of September.

Until recently, Aglianico was pretty much the only grape talked about in Basilicata, but it isn't the region's only grape. Despite poor conditions throughout much of the region, two other DOC appellations besides Aglianico have been recognized, Terra dell'Alta Val d'Agri and Matera. The one that's a mouthful translates to "Lands of the upper valley of Agri." Here, Agri is referring to the Agri River, which winds through Basilicata and spills out into the Ionian Sea [source: 123 Exp-Geography]. For a long time, the people of Matera simply ate the grapes they harvested. It wasn't until someone decided to start crushing them up and making wine that the area gained some recognition and earned a DOC designation to go with it [source: Italian Made].