Italy boasts more land under vine than any other country except Spain. However, unlike Spain or France, grapes are grown virtually in every region--from the cool, alpine hillsides in the North, South to the island of Sicily. Roman legions spread viticulture not just throughout Italy, but across the whole of Western Europe, seeding the world's great winemaking traditions.
Though predominantly focused on native varieties like Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, in more recent times Italy's cultivation of French varieties has increased. In fact, winemaking in Italy has changed drastically in the last forty years. With the exception of Tuscany, Italy sold its wines in bulk until well after World War II. The establishment in 1960 of the D.O.C. laws and subsequent addition of D.O.C.G. in the '80s, helped to define standards, clarify labeling and improve quality. Major strides in viticulture and vinification have resulted in world-class wines that are uniquely Italian.
Wine has always played an integral part in the daily life in Italy. In fact, until as recently as the late 80's, it was inconceivable to serve a meal without it. "To consider the history of wine in Italy is to consider the history of Italy itself…wine and Italian Civilization are virtually synonymous."