There are few countries in the world with a viticultural history as long or as illustrious as that claimed by Italy. Grapes were first being grown and cultivated on Italian soil several thousand years ago by the Greeks and the Pheonicians, who named Italy 'Oenotria' – the land of wines – so impressed were they with the climate and the suitability of the soil for wine production. Of course, it was the rise of the Roman Empire which had the most lasting influence on wine production in Italy, and their influence can still be felt today, as much of the riches of the empire came about through their enthusiasm for producing wines and exporting it to neighbouring countries. Since those times, a vast amount of Italian land has remained primarily for vine cultivation, and thousands of wineries can be found throughout the entire length and breadth of this beautiful country, drenched in Mediterranean sunshine and benefiting from the excellent fertile soils found there. Italy remains very much a 'land of wines', and one could not imagine this country, its landscape and culture, without it. Abruzzo is a region in Italy, its western border lying less than 50 miles due east of Rome. Abruzzo borders the region of Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and south-west, Molise to the south-east, and the Adriatic Sea to the east. Although geographically more of a central than southern region, ISTAT (the Italian statistical authority) considers it part of Southern Italy, a vestige of Abruzzo's historic association with the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
Abruzzo produces just one DOCG and three DOC wines that, though they carry brand names, used to be little known abroad and misjudged as cheap, generic, supermarket varieties. This is changing though, as of much of southern Italy the region is undergoing a gradual transition from bulk-wine production to bottled, boutique wines. In other words, a transition from a strictly industrial wine culture to one in which a limited and cared-for production that can bring commercial success and prosperity to the local residents.
Though the situation is changing, there still a tendency by wine critics, including Italian ones, to look down on the wines produced in the mezzogiorno, or southern Italy. What is missing in this blanket evaluation of Abruzzo wines, is the fact that many better-regarded French and northern Italian wines contain in various measures wine from this region, since much of it's production is still shipped north for blending purposes.
The four DOC produced in Abruzzo are the Contro Guerra, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane.
The last two should not be confused with the Tuscan Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. While the Tuscan one takes its name from the town where it's made in the province of Siena, the Abruzzo wine is made with a grape named Montepulciano.