Ultimate Guide to the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Wine Region

The view from Arcano castle near Udine, Italy, near the western border of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region­. See our collection of wine pictures.
iStockphoto/Mario Savoia

­When you think of Italy, the immediate places that come to mind are probably Florence, Venice, Rome and Sicily. Though Italy is peninsular, your first thought of a body of water near Italy is no doubt the Mediterranean Sea. You might also think back to history and imagine Caesar reclin­ing­ on a couch while eating red grapes. One notable place you may not have heard of is the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region.

To give you a better sense of where this region is in relation to those other points of interest, the Friuli-Venezia Giulia is a small region in the northeastern corner. It has some coastline on the Adriatic Sea and also borders Austria and Slovenia. The location of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region has contributed to a rich past that sets it apart from the other Italian provinces. It may be a relatively small area of land, but within the border of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Italian wine region there are diverse scenes to view. If you want to see water, you have the Adriatic Sea. If you want to look at mountains, you can look at the Alps. If you want something in between, there are plateaus and flatlands across the mainland [source: Italy World Club].

­Though the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region is generally an overlooked region in the Italian tourism scene, it produces some exceptional wines. Win­e enthusiasts regard this region as special because rather than having large-scale production centers, most of the wine producers are small but still pump out quality wines. The Friuli-Venezia Giulia region tends to have more weight as a white wine hotbed, though it should not be overlooked for other types of wine, such as light red.

Click to the next page to discover the interesting historical and cultural points of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia Wine History and Culture

No doubt white wine enthusiasts are extremely appreciative to­ whomever discovered that this northern region of Italy was a prime locale for white wine grapes. And that discovery probably came pretty early, as wine has been part of this region's past for as far back as the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region goes.

Proof of the claim that wine stretches far back into the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region's history comes with the existence of a structure called Rosazzo abbey in an area called Manzano. Archaeologists have determined that this abbey was built around year 1000, though it has gone through many changes over the years due to destruction and rebuilding. The abbey is surrounded by numerous vineyards that were up and running during the Middle Ages. This abbey is a site of interest to those curious about the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region's viniculture heritage. The Sdricca wine route in the abbey's nearby grounds provides a pleasant walking tour of the area [source: Naturalmente Italiano].

As mentioned on the first page, the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region is an area close to Austria and Slovenia. Due to this positioning, the region has quite a unique blend of Italian, Slavic and Austrian cultures. Aside from inheriting a different set of myths and folktales because of its location, the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region has also come into its own amalgamation of cuisine specialties [source: Batali].

Polenta is a big dish in this region of Italy, almost a staple of everyday cuisine. The Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region touts a very rich and hearty cuisine, including lots of meat and cheese. Heavy stews, game and fowl are popular dishes that inevitably get paired with the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region's wines [source: Anderson].

Read the next page to learn about how the agriculture shaped this special region in Italy.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia Wine Region Agriculture

The Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region has­ one of the best combinations of land and climate for the cold-weather grapes that produce its most popular white wines. Its position in the northeastern part of Italy sets the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region up for a perfect blend of air currents. The ocean currents that come in from the Adriatic Sea mix with the colder currents from the Alps to create a perfectly hospitable climate for the vineyards.

Besides favorable weather, another thing that Friulians have on their side for great viniculture is a tradition of working with the vines for many centuries. Friulians have been able to observe the grapes that are native to the region and create the best technique in working with them. They have also brought in some grapes from around the world and adapted them to the area [source: Anderson].

The land in which the vines grow in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region is just as varied as the cultural influences it has gained from nearby countries and past invaders. Soils can range from really rocky to clay influenced by sand and chalk. The best area in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region for vines is the slopes and hills of the pre-Alp landscape. This doesn't mean that vineyards don't do well in other areas, as the low-lying lands covered with smaller hills and plains do produce decent grapes, too [source: Berberoglu].

Click to the last page to learn about the fine wines from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Wine Region.

Famous Wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia

White wines are what the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region is known for. These wines traditionally have a pear or apple­ smell. They range from light to medium-bodied and have an acidic undertone and are very fresh and fruity. Some local varietals to look into are Friuli's Malvasia Istriana, Ribolla Gialla and Verduzzo.

The light red wines that come out of this region are its second most famous variety of wine. Red wines from this region are typically light-bodied and fruity. The Friulian reds don't rely too heavily on aging and oak barrels. Most of the reds are at their best within a few years after any particular harvest season. One native red wine is Refosco, but the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region does produce Merlots and Cabernets as well [source: Anderson]. Don't forget about sparkling and spumante versions of wine, too.

With the coming of spring and summer in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region, there are events that celebrate the wine culture of the area. There is a wine festival held during the third weekend of May each year, and there is also a showcase of the wines that the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region produces during the first weekend of July. These events attract not only Italians but people from all over the world [source: Naturalmente Italiano].

Now you are equipped with the knowledge of all the elements that have shaped the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region into what it is today. Next time you are at a wine shop and you see a bottle of Friulian wine, you can recall the information you learned here and appreciate the wine a little more than before.

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Sources

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  • ERSA. "The Organic Farming in Friuli Venezia Giulia." (Accessed 2/1/09) http://www.ersa.fvg.it/organic-farming/organic-farming/the-organic-farming-in-friuli-venezia-giulia?set_language=en&cl=en
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  • Naturalmente Italiano. "Friuli Venezia Giulia." (Accessed 2/1/09) http://www.naturalmenteitaliano.it/flex/cm/pages/ServeBLOB.php/L/EN/IDPagina/133
  • WineCountry.it. "Friuli-Venezia Giulia." (Accessed 2/1/09) http://www.winecountry.it/regions/friuli/