Celtic tribes inhabited the Piedmont wine region until the Romans took over. When the Roman Empire fell, so did Piedmont. Being on the border of Italy, it didn't have much protection from invaders and was were taken over by the French.
Phylloxera, a grape pest, invaded the Piedmont in the late 1800s, requiring the replanting of many vines. Barbera, an easy and abundantly growing vine, was the choice for many of the vineyards, paving the way for its takeover of Piedmont. Today it's the most widely planted grape in Piedmont, accounting for more than 50 percent of the region's annual DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) red wine production [source: Sonkin].
Though the Piedmont wine region has many fine wines, it isn't a mass-producing wine factory. Rather, visitors get more of a boutique experience with small, family-owned vineyards. Piedmont is also home to the white truffle (and the Alba winery's annual truffle festival) -- such a gourmet delicacy must be paired with a fine wine. Catholic pilgrims are also frequent visitors to the city of Turin, which holds the Shroud of Turin.
Read on to discover the mountain-base agriculture that produces the fine red wines of the Piedmont wine region.