The beautiful hilly sub-region of Barolo in Italy's legendary wine region of Piedmont is an extremely special place, and is said by many to be the home of Italy's greatest red wines. The lush, green hills are regularly covered with mists, which help to temper the otherwise hot and sunny weather, and thus slow the ripening process of the fine Nebbiolo grapes which thrive there. For thousands of years, this part of Italy has been responsible for producing wines of exquisite character and flavour, and little has changed in the twenty-first century. Traditional methods sit comfortably alongside modern techniques, and the results are rarely anything short of splendid, thanks to the dedication the local wine-makers have to supreme quality always coming before quantity. 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.