Italy has perfected the art of wine. With centuries of wine-making history and an ideal climate to make the most delicious libations, Italy is home to dozens of wine regions that produce more kinds of wines than you could imagine.
Italian wine categories can be very regional, so depending on your taste palette, you may prefer some of these regions over others. Italy also has special designations that indicate controlled origin, meaning non-quality ingredients (like grapes better suited for vinegar or table wine) are removed to assure a high-quality product. "D.O.C" indicates this for Italian wine and cheese, with "D.O.C.G" being the highest designation.
Given the sheer amount of regions and, therefore, the wine produced, this guide will focus on the three largest wine regions by both production amount and highest volume of D.O.C. wines. Then, let's dive into some of the wineries that make these regions tick. Grab your favorite glass of Chianti, and makes notes for your next trip to Italian wine country!
Veneto takes home the top award for the amount of volume in hectoliters of wine produced in the country. Incidentally, it also boasts the highest volume of D.O.C. quality assured wines, so you really can't go wrong with this region. Famous for both its red and white wines, the region particularly excels in its sparkling varietals because of its slightly colder northern location and proximity to the Alps. The largest cities in this region include Venice, Treviso, and Verona.
Villa Moscani Bertani
Housed in an 18th-century glam and glitz villa located just outside of Verona, the winery's location has a wine-making heritage that dates from the 16th century. The Bertani Family has used the property since 1957 as a headquarters for their Tenuta Santa Maria Di Gaetano Bertani and is the "birthplace" of label's Amarone and Valpolicella wines. Tours are available for €9 per person, and tastings with pre-fix selections are available for €22 per person to €35 per person, depending on the selection you choose. Reservations are strongly recommended!
Cantini Zeni e Museum del Vino
The highest-rated winery in the Veneto region on TripAdvisor, Cantini Zeni has both a small, history-of-wine-making museum room and a variety of options for wine tasting. Located in Bardolino, Cantini Zeni is a great option for budget-friendly travelers since they have a limited selection of free tastings. If you want to try the more premium wines, then each taste ranges from €3 to €4. Cantini Zeni is most famous for veronese classics like Bardolino, Custoza, Lugana, Soave and Valpolicella.
Monte Fasolo Le Volpi
Settled in the Euganean Hills, Le Volpi is an entirely organic and vegan winery that began in 2013. Their grapes are grown in a volcanic regional park, and the resulting red wines and prosecco are standouts in their varietal lineup. Le Volpi also houses an idyllic inn with stunning views of the rolling hills on which acres upon acres of grapes grow. Wine tastings and tours are available to book ahead of time for €10 to €30, depending on the tour.
One of the most famous wine regions in Italy (and where there's an unexpected hot spring to enjoy!), Tuscany comes in right under Veneto as the highest-producing D.O.C region. Famous for its reds and even sweet wines, the names Chianti and Sangeviose will dominate the wine tasting menus in this area. Florence is the largest city located here as well.
Barone Ricasoli at Brolio Castle
This list of wineries would not be complete without discussing Barone Ricasoli in Tuscany, one of Italy's oldest wineries and one of the oldest wineries in the world. Since 1141, wine has continuously been produced on this site at Brolio Castle, or Castilo di Brolio as it is in Italian and is most known for its rich Chiantis. Today there is a museum, garden, and of course, wine tasting. It is the perfect place to stroll through medieval architecture while learning about the centuries-old wine production that Barone Ricasoli has become famous for.
The Antinori Family boasts a wine-making tradition that dates back to the 14th century, and Badia Passignano has been a crown jewel vineyard of theirs since the 1980s. One of the more posh picks on this list, this Chianti winery is almost as famous for its rich Sangiovese as it is for its gastronomical experience at the Michelin Guide recognized Osteria di Passignano. You'll find traditional Italian fare in a medieval environment-- there's evidence of winemaking on the property dating back to the 11th century.
Rocca di Frassinello
A newer entree into the wine-making world compared to the other two featured Tuscan wineries, Rocca di Frassinello produced its first vintage in 2004 and hasn't looked back since. Mixing it up from the norm of Italian wine tradition, Rocca di Frassinello focuses on the perfect blend of half-French, half-Italian wines. The resulting "experiment" remains one of the most consistently better created red wines from consumers and critics alike. Tours are available year-round for this winery, and a great bonus is an access to an Etruscan archeological site accessible for the cellar.
While regions like Piedmont or Sicily may have the more immediate name recognition to the wine novice, the Emilia-Romagna region comes in right below Tuscany as the highest producer of D.O.C. wine and ranks third in overall wine production in the country, producing close to 7 million hectoliters of wine in 2020. Its mountainous geography makes the region a perfect climate for Lambrusco and other signature Italian red wines...and Parmesan! Modena, Parma, and Bologna are prominent towns (and gastronomical visits) in this region.
Cantina Del Borgo
With a perfect review record on TripAdvisor, Cantina Del Borgo is tucked away near the dominating Castello di Torrechiara. Its intimate setting is what visitors gush about most when it comes to this smaller, very authentic winery. The winemakers themselves are the ones that host you through a tasting, where the sparkling and red varietals are the crowd favorites. Since the operation is small, calling to book is most likely the best plan of action if you want to visit.
Another small-family run operation, Fattoria Moretto, specializes in smaller yield batches, with a focus on Lambrusco Grasparossa. One of their wines was such a crowd pleaser that it was featured in Forbes Magazine in 2019. The vineyard has been in operation since the early 1970s and utilizes organic agricultural practices to cultivate its grapes. Tastings are €18 per person, and bonus, if you're traveling with your pet, Fattoria Moretto welcomes fur babies!
Cantina il Poggio
Catina il Poggio is one of the most scenic vineyards in the area, sitting on top of a hill adjacent to the "Parma Food Valley." From the winery, you'll enjoy an amazing view of vineyards, a peaceful lake, and olives, an Italian dreamscape.
Producers from the winery highlight sustainability as a key value in their manufacturing and emphasize the importance of tradition and technology working together to create exceptional wine. You can reserve tastings of these "beyond-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 is a great experience for the true wine aficionado.