Ultimate Guide to the Calabria Wine Region

Calabria Wine Region History and Culture

Quick recap -- the Greeks brough­t winemaking to Calabria. The people of the region perfected the art but when the Romans took control, they destroyed entire forests in an effort to multiply their fleets. So what happened from there? Well, many years later, the Byzantines entered the picture and gave the region its present-day name.

In ancient times, Calabria had a reputation for making fine wine, but it wasn't called Calabria. It was part of a much larger region referred to as Enotria, or "the land of wine." Most of southern Italy was included in this region. Calabria would stay nestled in this large region until the 7th century, when Byzantine rule would separate it and provide the area with the name it still goes by today [source: York].

Much of the region's earlier history parallels that of its neighboring regions, Apulia and Basilicata. Greeks brought vines to the area and laid the foundation for most of the modern techniques that are still used to grow grapes today. Romans, on the other hand, built roads and chopped down trees for construction purposes as they attempted to gain control of the entire world [source: Wine Country]. The Roman Empire eventually fell. The damage they caused, however, was large scale, and Calabria felt the effects for centuries to come.

During its lifetime, Calabria has been home to dozens of cultures ranging from Arabs and Gypsies to Spaniards and Jews [source: Wine Country]. Because there have been so many different civilizations through so many different eras, wine production throughout the region has been incredibly inconsistent over the years. All of this has contributed to Calabria's present reputation for producing mediocre wine. Moreover, it doesn't look like the region will be turning that around any time soon.

The last 100 years have seen a trend that borders on an epidemic. Fed up with poor soil conditions and the inability to farm the land, people have been fleeing Calabria in droves. The current tally of this exodus sits at more than one million [source: Reiss]. Perhaps the smaller population will create more room for vineyards, but only time will tell.