In the remote farming region of Puglia, located on the heel of Italy’s boot, exists a thousand-year-old wine culture that began when the Greeks planted vines from their land across the Adriatic Sea. Despite being a prominent agricultural region with a winemaking heritage since the 7th century, very few people, even in the business, are aware of Puglian wine. Thanks to the local wine community in conjunction with the region’s major producers, things are beginning to change.
Southern Italy’s wine scene has had it rough. Since the 1960s Puglia and Sicily were best known for producing bulk wine, earning them the unflattering nickname, “Europe’s cellar,” which dogged its reputation for forty years. The bulk wine trade has always been present here, but until fifty years ago, business was mainly local consumption. Italian’s drank wine for nutrition, not leisure, and the simple supply chain consisted of wineries selling wholesale juice to local grocery stores and restaurants.
During the 60s, Italian wine evolved into a luxury beverage. As popularity grew, northern wineries like Tuscany and Piedmont became more industrialized to keep pace, but that wasn’t enough; they needed volume. Seemingly overnight the northern commercial wineries began relying on fuller bodied, inexpensive wines from Puglia and Sicily to beef up their blends…
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