Italian Vineyard Terms Explained

A handy guide to deciphering designations

 


Italy is a land of vines -- after all, the Greeks did indeed call it “Enotria” (the land of wine) -- so it’s not surprising that Italians have so many terms for their vineyards. Part of the key to solving the puzzle that can be Italian wine labels is learning how Italian vineyards get their names.

It seems as though each Italian vineyard has been analyzed and cataloged, yielding a slew of terms that help to distinguish the best Italian vineyards from all the rest. Some of these names are so similar to other commonly used words that it might be confusing (but we’re going to fix that), while others seem rooted in a specific region’s dialect. Don’t worry, we’ll have all the Italian vineyard designations sorted out in due time. Let’s begin with the following list of Italian vineyard designations.

Vigna

Vigna is the Italian term for “vine”. Vigne is the plural. Vigna or vigne is often used as a casual way to refer to a vineyard, or part of a vineyard. Sometime you might see Le Vigne del XXXX as a reference on a wine label, referring to the vines of XXXX as the source of the grapes used for said wine, though this is not an officially recognized term.

Vigneto

Vigneto is the standard Italian term for “vineyard.” It refers to a specific parcel of land used to cultivate grapes, usually for the production of wine. It is often found on the label of an Italian wine, followed by the name of the vineyard.

Vigneti

Vigneti is the plural form of vigneto. It is rare to find this term used on an Italian wine label, and when you do it generally refers to a winery, which is named, as in this case, the vineyards of Massa.

Vitigno

Vitigno refers to a specific variety of vine. It’s a hard phrase to translate into English. It roughly translates into “variety," but is used exclusively with grape vines. In common usage it can be translated as “varietal," although when used correctly in English, varietal is an adjective used to describe a wine made from a specific grape variety. 

Bricco or Bric

Bricco, or bric, is one of the most common terms found on Italian wine label, primarily on Piedmontese wines. The terms are somewhat interchangeable and generally refer to the top of a hill. For various reasons this may not equate with the warmest pockets on a hillside, but they certainly benefit from great sun exposure. 

The bricco were historically identified as the piece of a hill where the snow first melted away. I have heard that bricco is also an Old Italian term for “kettle” or “cast iron cauldron,” which would lend credence to the idea that is denotes a warm spot rather than simply a hilltop.

Ronco

Ronco also means hilltop or hillside vineyard, and is used in Friuli. In Trentino, the term ranga has the same meaning.

Sori

Sori, on the other hand, refers to the top of a hill. It’s not a common word but is quite famous since the Piedmontese producer Gaja features it prominently on his labels. In fact, the wines that Gaja once labeled as Barbaresco are now named after their respective sori.

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Comments

  • Snooth User: P90G
    189999 5

    Great piece. very informative.

    Nov 30, 2010 at 1:42 PM


  • Snooth User: MillieD
    29371 1

    Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to become more knowledgable about wine terms. Really enjoyed the article!

    Nov 30, 2010 at 3:22 PM


  • Snooth User: zinfandel1
    Hand of Snooth
    154660 1,040

    Good article. Are you going to get into the government classification of wines like France does?

    Nov 30, 2010 at 5:12 PM


  • Snooth User: Buckl
    116248 10

    Those terms seem like historic label clutter. i don't see how they help in making a wine selection. The article helps me know to ignore those terms.

    Nov 30, 2010 at 5:50 PM


  • Snooth User: Jazzgal
    616050 13

    How nice to learn another "language" of wine. So nicely written. Thanks -

    Nov 30, 2010 at 9:44 PM


  • Snooth User: luca chevalier
    Hand of Snooth
    533661 2,535

    Hi Greg...Vigneto=Cru...Podere = Piece of land, Tenuta =Podere+ a Building (most of time). Bricco is used only in Piemonte it's "dialetto" a sort of slang, "Ciabot" (also dialetto ) in Piemonte is a small building, lika 2m x2m where the farmers were keeping their tools to work in the vineyard.....

    Dec 01, 2010 at 2:18 AM


  • Snooth User: luca chevalier
    Hand of Snooth
    533661 2,535

    ...località it's a small part of town, it'a a part of the town but it's located far from it ....Ciao

    Dec 01, 2010 at 2:21 AM


  • Snooth User: Momish
    225947 59

    Is it possible to get ALL the information in a text file to print? At least at the end of the info there should be an option to print the whole thing. Having to click on each section and either print each one (waste of paper & toner) or cut & paste each section into another document is extremely annoying. The info is good but I lose patience with the whole experience.

    Dec 01, 2010 at 7:18 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 222,083

    Hi Norley, page through to the last slide in the show and you'll find a link to a single page format of the article, sans images though.

    Dec 01, 2010 at 10:25 AM


  • Snooth User: winedogs
    478829 8

    nice piece; useful, too. appreciate your efforts

    Dec 01, 2010 at 1:48 PM


  • Snooth User: granos
    660836 1

    The history of the vine, if you like to read it is at
    http://www.squidoo.com/italyonyourtongue
    You will find where the first vine began and how, and the best link to the most popular Tuscany Cuisine wine

    Dec 02, 2010 at 2:52 AM


  • Snooth User: Giacomo Pevere
    Hand of Snooth
    806471 999

    For pronunciations google translate is great, u can listen every word in this article and with a good pronunciations. Write just single words because voice reproduces the sequence of all words.

    The article is great! Very well explained and accurate.

    Dec 11, 2011 at 7:07 PM


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