With very little industrial development, Molise remains economically dependent on agriculture. Most of the farming is done on small plots of land, for subsistence rather than industry. The majority of people, even professionals such as government employees, spend part of the workweek tending fields or caring for livestock.
While Molise may lag behind neighboring regions in material wealth, it is very rich in its cultural traditions. All the foodstuffs grown in Molise are crucial to the region's cuisine. Among the principal crops are wheat, beans, tomatoes, artichokes, white giant celery and other basic food crops. In addition, a great deal of livestock is raised, notably sheep, goats and pigs. Molise produces incredible meats, cheeses and olive oil -- but its true prize is its wine [source: ItalianMade].
With its sunny hillsides, Molise has nearly ideal conditions for wine production. Most of Molise's vineyards are in the southern hills and valleys. Strict regulations govern the altitudes at which certain wine grapes may be cultivated [source: ItalianMade]. Much of the region's viticulture, like its agriculture, is highly traditional, or even antiquated; many vineyards still train vines to tall deciduous trees in the ancient Etruscan fashion [source: Winebow]. Slowly, the wine business is adapting to modern methods.
A handful of vintners have begun to modernize their vineyards while preserving the local varietals, and in the 1980s, Molise received its first DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) designation, which is basically a huge stamp of approval. Today, the region produces three DOC wines:
- Pentro di Isernia
- Molise [source: Wine Country]
The DOC varieties represent only a small portion of the region's output. Molise seems poised soon to become a widely recognized wine region.