A guide to the best wine regions in Italy
Italy has perfected the art of wine. With centuries of winemaking history and the perfect climate for making the most delicious libations, Italy is home to dozens of wine regions that produce more types of wine than you might imagine.
Italian wine categories can be very regional, so depending on your taste palette, you might prefer some of these regions over others. Italy also has special designations that indicate controlled origin, which means non-quality ingredients (like grapes better suited for vinegar or table wine) are removed to ensure a high-quality product. “DOC” indicates this for Italian wines and cheeses, “DOCG” being the highest designation.
Given the sheer number of regions and, therefore, wine produced, this guide will focus on the three largest wine regions in terms of production quantity and highest volume of DOC wines. Next, let’s dive into some of the wineries that rock these regions. Grab your favorite glass of Chianti and take notes for your next trip to Italy’s wine country!
Veneto wins first prize for the amount of volume in hectoliters of wine produced in the country. Incidentally, it also has the highest volume of DOC quality wines, so you really can’t go wrong with this region. Famous for its red and white wines, the region particularly excels in its sparkling varietals due to its somewhat colder northern location and proximity to the Alps. The largest cities in this region are Venice, Treviso and Verona.
Villa Moscani Bertani
Housed in a glam and glitzy 18th-century villa just outside Verona, the winery location boasts a winemaking heritage that dates back to the 16th century. The Bertani family has used the property since 1957 as the headquarters of their Tenuta Santa Maria Di Gaetano Bertani and is the “birthplace” of the label’s Amarone and Valpolicella wines. Tours are available for €9 per person, and tastings with prefixed selections are available for €22 per person to €35 per person, depending on the selection you choose. Reservations are highly recommended!
Cantini Zeni and Wine Museum
The top-rated winery in the Veneto region on TripAdvisor, Cantini Zeni has both a small museum room on the history of winemaking and a variety of wine tasting options. Located in Bardolino, Cantini Zeni is a great option for budget travelers as they have a limited selection of free tastings. If you want to try the more premium wines, each taste ranges from €3 to €4. Cantini Zeni is best known for its Veronese classics like Bardolino, Custoza, Lugana, Soave and Valpolicella.
Mount Fasolo Le Volpi
Set in the Euganean Hills, Le Volpi is an all-organic, vegan winery that started in 2013. Their grapes are grown in a volcanic regional park, and the resulting red wines and prosecco stand out in their varietal range. Le Volpi is also home to an idyllic inn with breathtaking views of the hills on which acres and acres of grapes grow. Wine tastings and tours are available by booking in advance for €10 to €30, depending on the tour.
One of Italy’s most famous wine regions (and where you can enjoy an unexpected hot spring!), Tuscany is second only to Veneto as the highest-producing DOC region. Famous for its red and even sweet wines, the names Chianti and Sangeviose will dominate wine tasting menus in this area. Florence is also the largest city located here.
Barone Ricasoli at Brolio Castle
This list of wineries wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Barone Ricasoli in Tuscany, one of the oldest wineries in Italy and one of the oldest wineries in the world. Since 1141, wine has been continuously produced on this site at Brolio Castle, or Castilo di Brolio in Italian and is best known for its rich Chiantis. Today there is a museum, a garden and of course a wine tasting. It’s the perfect place to stroll through medieval architecture while learning about the centuries-old wine production for which Barone Ricasoli became famous.
The Antinori family has a winemaking tradition that dates back to the 14th century, and Badia Passignano has been their gem vineyard since the 1980s. One of the classier picks on this list, this Chianti winery is almost as famous for its rich Sangiovese as for his gastronomic experience at the Osteria di Passignano recognized by the Michelin Guide. You’ll find traditional Italian dishes in a medieval setting – there’s evidence of winemaking on the property dating back to the 11th century.
Rocca of Frassinello
A more recent entry into the world of winemaking compared to the other two featured Tuscan wineries, Rocca di Frassinello produced its first vintage in 2004 and hasn’t looked back since. Blending the standard of Italian winemaking tradition, Rocca di Frassinello focuses on the perfect blend of half-French, half-Italian wines. The resulting “Experience” remains one of the best-created red wines by consumers and critics. Tours are available year-round for this winery, and a great bonus is access to an accessible Etruscan archaeological site for the winery.
While regions like Piedmont or Sicily may have the most immediate name recognition for the wine novice, the Emilia-Romagna region ranks just below Tuscany as the largest producer of DOC wine and ranks third in the country’s overall wine production, producing nearly 7 million hectoliters of wine in 2020. Its mountainous geography makes the region a perfect climate for Lambrusco and other iconic Italian red wines…and the parmesan! Modena, Parma and Bologna are important cities (and food tours) in this region.
Cantine Del Borgo
With a perfect review record on TripAdvisor, Cantina Del Borgo is nestled near the towering Castello di Torrechiara. Its intimate setting is what visitors rave about when it comes to this small, very authentic wine estate. The winemakers themselves are the ones who welcome you through a tasting, where sparkling and red varietals are crowd favorites. Since the operation is small, calling to book is probably the best course of action if you want to visit.
Another small family business, Fattoria Moretto, specializes in smaller-yielding batches, with a focus on Lambrusco Grasparossa. One of their wines was so crowd-pleasing that it was featured in Forbes magazine in 2019. The vineyard has been in business since the early 1970s and uses organic farming practices to grow its grapes. Tastings are €18 per person, and as a bonus, if you’re traveling with your pet, Fattoria Moretto welcomes fur babies!
Canteen Il Poggio
Catina il Poggio is one of the most picturesque vineyards in the region, located on top of a hill adjacent to the “Parma Food Valley”. From the winery you will enjoy breathtaking views of vineyards, a peaceful lake and olives, an Italian dream landscape.
The winery’s producers highlight sustainability as a key value in their making and emphasize the importance of tradition and technology working together to create exceptional wine. You can book tastings of these “outside-contemporary” wines on their website for 18€ per person. A vertical tasting (a tasting of the same wine from different years) will cost €35 per person, but it’s a great experience for the true wine lover.