An ancient mission of Calabria: pro-create Wine!


The same History of the Western world begins, according to Homer, with a divine deliberation about the disagreement to be posed between East and West, with the proud disagreement of the Achaean (the Greeks) from the East of Troy, and with the legendary war of the same name.

The Legendary War of Troy

To seal the decision of the gods intervenes the wine, that which divine Ebe pours to the Olympians, a wine certainly ancient, as immemorial are the traces in Calabria, in the land called “Locride”, of the production, coeval with Homer and perhaps the facts of Troy, of this magnificent vine elixir.

Thus Homer tells how the glass of Hebe, filled with wine is offered to the gods of Olympus, shortly before they decide the fate of Troy and the new world of the Achaeans (the Greeks):

“Sitting around Zeus,

the gods were at

conference / on

a gold floor, and between

their Ebe, venerable, /

poured wine them like the

nectar; those with the

gold cups /

drink a toast, while

turning their

look at Troy “.

Iliad IV, 1 ssg.

The statue of Ebe from Canova

In the classical Greek world Hebe (“Ηβη, Hebe) does not have a well-defined history, it is a” discreet goddess “; however Hesiod speaks of it often and we like to imagine that the ancient archaeological sites, found in Calabria where the must was treated (the so-called “Palmenti”), were the primitive place where wine was for the first time “pro-created” by the ancient Bruzi and then by the Greek colonists. Yes, “pro-created”, born, for the first time in the Western world in collaboration with a creator, ….but not with the Goddess Hebe, but with God himself, who intended to give it to the “land of men”…

Gift of God


The ancient millstones excavated in the rock are the clear material document, in the area of Locride, very close to the site of the “Passito di Bianco”, of the relative flourishing and long-lasting production of wine in this territory, suited for the cultivation of vines from immemorial time.

The abundant presence of rock mills (tanks of sandstone for the decantation of the must), dug into the rock, represents a very important testimony of the flourishing wine culture in Calabria. This phenomenon describes indirectly and in an important way the agricultural landscape of a specific area of the Locride, that is that of the Ionian coast of Reggio included between the municipalities of Bruzzano, Ferruzzano, S. Agata del Bianco, Caraffa del Bianco, Casignana, Africo and Samo, where a massive concentration of over 700 specimens has been found.

Palmenti in Calabria


The manufacts made in the rock are part of the oldest production facilities for wine. Some rocky remains of the western Mediterranean date back to the first millennium BC, but since it is a technique used in all historical periods and lacking artifacts that prove its age, their dating is often difficult.

These types of millstones are also mentioned in the Bible [Jeremiah 48.33; Job 24,11] and have been present in Syria and Israel since the Bronze Age, where there are even more than 10,000; they were also found in Greece, particularly in Crete and the small island of Gaudos, used from the Minoan to the Hellenistic age.

The millstones of the area of Locride, instead, express the evident vocation of this territory, since Biblic time or Homeric, to viticulture and to the production of wines that from here were then shipped to the Mediterranean ports.

Near Bianco and Locri


The “Palmenti” show the primordial techniques in which the crushing of the grapes was carried out with the feet, as the paintings of the tombs of Ancient Egypt describe well.

The name “palmento” derives from the Latin pavimentum: it consisted of basins dug into the sandstone, an upper one called, in actual Calabrian dialect, “buttìscu” and a lower one called “pinàci”, made communicating with each other through a hole. The sandstone is a very friable rock and where this was not present, the stalks were built in mixed masonry and made impermeable with a layer of sand and lime plaster mixed with earthenware of a thickness of about 3 cm.

Palmenti near Ferruzzano, in front of Ionian sea

The palmenti were equipped with a channel that allowed the outflow of the liquid squeezed into a basin for fermentation, both made of clay. Then in the upper basin there were grooves in the side walls, where a large table full of holes ( in actual Calabrian dialect:“la foràta”) was placed, which served to create a narrow passage (“consu”) into which the pomace was poured to be further crushed by a large table of holed oak wood called “chjancùni”.

Once the processing practices were completed in the millstones, the must produced was finally placed in the wine amphorae.

Wine Amphora

A good part of the many millstones of this area of Calabria, which revolved around the prosperous Magna Graecia colony of Locri Epizephirii, are hypothesized to date back to a period between the 7th and 4th century BC, due to some archaeological materials found later, in Ferruzzano and in the towns of the district of S. Domenica and Carruso: some fragments of tiles, in Greek “pithoi”, plus a fragment of a Locrese vase and a fragment of a Corinthian vase, as well as the base of a MGS amphora (Greek-Italic).


On various surveyed and studied milestones, Byzantine crosses have also been identified, which therefore indicate that wine production continued to be present and lasting even in the sixth century AD: among them we must remember two extremely important ones since they bear the Justinian cross engraved, unique examples in Calabria.

This area is also rich in Basilian caves and architectural ruins: this suggests that the landscape has been transformed over the centuries, alternating between buildings, destruction, reconstructions and movements from the coast to the hinterland.

Greek Ruins


Until not too long ago, given that the use was ignored, the Palmenti were used even as troughs for the animals; others, unused, were destroyed to make way for the cultivation of the land.

Such oblivion is a symbol of History repeating: Western world and Italy forget origins of wine making as a gift, as a “procreation” of Calabria!

Oblivion of ancient wine making

One of many unique features of Calabria’s Wine Region is its great number of vines, representing the genetic root of all Italian and Western vines. Apart the ancient tecnique of Palmenti, which was “pro-created” here, you cannot count the popular indigenous varietals like Gaglioppo, as well as many that are still being re-discovered today, which gave rise, genetically and archeologically, to the highest number of indigenous grapes of all Italy and the World.

Since first production of a pure wine of vine in Armenia, 6,000 years ago, only Calabria and its Magna Graecia gave to the world a unitary tecnique of production and winemaking.

This is the main reason why the top of global wine  list elected Calabria for decades as the land of more interesting wines, not only for the region’s untouched splendor and beauty, but also for the history of its wines!

The golden mask of Agamemnon

Map of Calabrian Wines



Calabria is a beautiful region of southern Italy, rich in history and traditions, which boasts a vast material and immaterial cultural heritage. Bathed by the clear waters of the Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, it is separated from Sicily by the Strait of Messina. The mild climate, the beautiful colors of the sea, the rocky coasts alternating with sandy coasts, its wild and mysterious nature, the intense and genuine flavors of the local cuisine and the testimonies of its ancient origins make Calabria a unique place to admire both in winter and in summer.

The ancient Greeks knew Calabria as Enotria, “Land of wine”, and the Calabrian wines were offered as a prize to the winners of the Olympics. In more recent times, the phylloxera epidemic has given a severe blow to the Calabrian viticulture, in fact for many years the Calabrian wines have been relegated as cutting wines, and it is only in recent years, thanks to the stubbornness of many local winemakers, that the qualitative level has come back to previous times.


Map of Wines Production Areas

The main viticultural areas of Calabria are the Cosentino (near Cosenza, see the map), Lametino (surrounding Lamezia Terme), Cirotano (near Crotone) and Locride (the tiny yellow area of production of Greco di Bianco wine).

The area of Cosentino, located north of the region bordering with Basilicata, is the most extensive production area, where viticulture has recovered the hills between 500/700 meters.

The denomination Donnici wine has been absorbed by the new one, Terre di Cosenza DOC, with its seven Subzones, and it has given a new impulse and reconfigured in 2011 the viticulture of all northern Calabria, merging the historical certifications, DOC and IGT, of this province and putting order in a myriad of vines and ancient areas. For example, in recent years the most widespread vine, Magliocco Canino, has been included in Terre di Cosenza and revalued, which is expressed in a wine rich in color, with a powerful structure and incisive aromas of blackberry and spices of the Crati Hills (called Terre di Cosenza – Sub-hills of the Crati DOC), while lower chromatic concentrations and excellent balance is present in the Valle dell’Esaro wine (Terre di Cosenza Subarea Esaro DOC). Also in this area are produced light rosé wines and ready to drink. In addition, vineyards that reach 800 meters give white wines elegant and fragrant, fresh and young to drink, based on Greco Bianco and Guarnaccia, used in purity or in blends. A gem is the Moscato di Saracena, a sweet wine with toasted hints, traditionally produced with dried Moscatello and reduced must for the concentration of Guarnaccia and Malvasia.

Donnici Village

Along the course of the Savuto, natural border of the province of Cosenza to the south and territory of the denominations Savuto DOC and Lamezia DOC, there is the well known Magliocco dolce – here identified as “arvino” -, to which is flanked Gaglioppo, Greco Nero and Aglianico inside the less known Scavigna DOC, while for the white wines Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia Bianca, Chardonnay and Traminer Aromatic grapes are used.

The Ionic side, in the province of Crotone, is the realm of the Cirò DOC denomination, first in terms of numbers and diffusion, whose wine is produced with Gaglioppo grapes. The rebirth of this wine – which the ancient Greeks called “Kremisi” – is recent history and is the result of lower yields per hectare and better production technologies. Until a few years ago Cirò DOC was endowed with a strong alcoholic component and aggressive tannins, but today, while maintaining shades that fade quickly in the orange and quite transparent, it offers a warm taste but with an appreciable tannin. Rosé wines obtained from Gaglioppo grapes are also interesting, fresh and fragrant with rosehip and raspberry.

Typical Cirò vine: Gaglioppo

In the area of Reggio Calabria, area of the denomination Bivongi DOC, the blends are obtained from international vines and ancient grapes, among which the Greco Nero and the Nocera stand out, together with Nerelli Mascalese and Cappuccio, which give simple wines and others that, on the contrary, give their best after aging.

Locride is a land of rare wines. From the slopes of the Aspromonte towards the edge of the coast that overlooks the Ionian Sea, the Mantonico is subjected to a slight drying for the production of a sweet and fresh wine, while not far away, in the municipality of Bianco and only in part of that of Casignana, the Greco Bianco di Bianco has found the ideal terroir to give the famous sweet wine, which is almost impossible to find elsewhere. The bunches are greedy for care, but they are stingy with fruits, they dry on trellises in the sun for 10-15 days and give a sweet and soft wine, which gives Mediterranean aromas like orange blossom, bergamot, apricot, honey and sage. This Greco di Bianco DOC is a true enological gem produced in very few bottles.

Greco di Bianco passito, reeds of essication


Calabria is a beautiful region of southern Italy that stretches along an impervious and difficult territory. It is bathed by the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas and is characterized by narrow valleys modelled by rivers and mountains that divide it into two, making the climatic conditions between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian sides really different.

The climate in the areas around Cosenza is continental, so that the wine-growing areas are subject to intense temperature variations which are particularly favorable for the cultivation of white grapes, which improves the bouquet expressed in the wines.

In the mountainous areas of the Sila the thermal excursions are attenuated by warmer temperatures, influenced by the scirocco winds and the tramontana, which enrich the sugary components of the grapes grown on the hills of the well known Cirò.

Argillaceous-calcareous soil

Along the coast, the Mediterranean climate influences the innermost vineyards of the granite Aspromonte up to those of the Costa dei Gelsomini (near Reggio Calabria), where the historic Greco di Bianco finds the ideal conditions for the production of wines of excellent quality.

Other differences are also found in the composition of the land: in fact, from the vineyards cultivated in the terraces – composed mainly of limestone soils of volcanic origin – we obtain dense and structured wines whose powerful tannins offer optimal conditions for medium-long evolutions. Argillaceous-calcareous formations of the hills of the Ionic side favor Gaglioppo and the production of slightly colored, sapid and mineral red wines.

Vine growing, “Alberello” (little tree) type

The vine growing systems practiced in Calabria are mainly spurred cordon, but the historical cultivation in Alberello is among the most widespread compared to the oldest ones (especially for the Cirò wine).