Ultimate Guide to the Emilia-Romagna Wine Region

Emilia-Romagna Wine Region Agriculture

It certainly takes a variety of influences and skills to ­ produce great wine. Today's winemaking practices are a result of the preservation of longstanding traditions and the artful blending of cultural, social and agricultural practices. Emilia-Romagna, for example, bears the cultural legacy of the Greco-Roman and Etruscan civilizations, down to small details like techniques of growing and pruning grapevines. The ancient Greeks characteristically trained their vines with short canes planted into the ground some distance apart, in what is called the head or goblet system. The Etruscans, on the other hand, used longer canes to attach vines to the branches of tall trees. Today both systems are still used in the vineyards of Emilia-Romagna [source: Fontana]. Lambrusco grapes, the primary kind grown for wine in Emilia, are commonly supported vertically on trellises, to reduce the likelihood of mildew [source: Apicella].

Some influences are not always beneficial. In the late 19th century, an epidemic of the parasite Phylloxera devastated European vineyards. As the fields recovered in the early 20th century, social changes were transforming European agriculture. The common practice of sharecropping was on its way out, to be replaced by a system of cooperatives and privately owned estates. These new vineyards phased out the mixing and rotation of different crops, concentrating on the exclusive or monocultural cultivation of wine grapes [source: Fontana].

By the mid-20th century, the quantity of wine produced in the region had skyrocketed, leading to concerns about diminishing quality. Wine is serious business in Italy, and the government wanted that legacy to continue. To address the issue, a consortium was created in 1962 to preserve the classic wines of Romagna [source: DiWine Taste]. The national government even instituted strict systems of quality control. The most distinguished of traditional wine-growing regions receive the designations of Denominazione d'Origine Controllata (DOC: Denomination of Controlled Origin) and Denominazione d'Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG: Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin). Twenty areas of Emilia-Romagna have earned the DOC label [source: DiWine Taste].

If you're interested in "tasting" some of the different wines of this region, move ahead!