Discovering Rome’s Lazio wine region

When you think about Rome, the vibrancy of the Italian capital city, the Coliseum, the Vatican, the Pantheon and so many other landmarks spring to mind. But how about vineyards? Outside local residents, the Lazio wine region is very much under-the-radar. So what is its history? Which grape varieties are grown there? We take a closer look at this ancient wine region which is starting to broaden its international horizons thanks to a new generation of producers.


  • Lazio’s wines, a fusion of long-standing heritage and modernity
  • The Lazio wine region
  • Native grape varieties
  • Wine tourism in Lazio

Lazio’s wines, a fusion of long-standing heritage and modernity

The history of wine in Lazio dates back to the Etruscans, and its production to Antiquity. There were already vineyards in Ancient Rome, and across the entire Roman Empire, the local wines were renowned. This winegrowing tradition has come down the centuries, and now the younger generations, many of them women, are perpetuating this time-honoured history by rooting it firmly in the 21st century. A case in point is Merumalia, a winery run by two young women who combine viticultural tradition, organic farming and modern facilities and wines. Or Casale Vallechiesa which leverages innovation to improve both its customer experience and production, via blockchain technology.

The Lazio wine region

The 18,000 hectares under vine extend all around the city, mostly over rolling hills. The Mediterranean climate, notwithstanding climate change, remains conducive to growing vines. The soils are varied and range from volcanic to clay.

Since 2014, producers have begun to embrace organic farming. According to the Lazio regional agency for the development of innovation and agriculture (ARSIAL), 14% of the region’s vineyards are farmed organically, up 45% on 2014.

Lazio’s 400 wineries produce an average of 0.8 million hectolitres of wine a year, 75% of which is white and 25% red. Of the area’s 6 PGIs (Protected Geographical Indication) and 27 PDOs (Protected Designation of Origin or DOP in Italian), twenty or so are earmarked for white wine.

Lazio wines, which until now have been largely drunk by the people of Rome, are increasingly moving outside the local market. Exports of Lazio-made wines have surged by 20.4% compared with 2020, according to Istat-Qualivita.

Native grape varieties

The character of Lazio wines stem from native grapes, which have been grown for centuries. The region’s ampelography database lists 94 grape varieties, 45 white, 42 red, 2 pink and 1 blush.

For the white varietals, the star grapes are Trebbiano and Malvasia. For DOC Frascati, one of the region’s most iconic appellations, the wines are a blend of Malvasia, Trebbiano and Bellone. Their key calling cards are freshness and exuberance.

For the reds, the undisputed leader is the low-cropping, late-ripening Cesanese variety which delivers lovely aromas of cherry and spices. Other native red grape varieties include the vigorous Nero Buono.

Wine tourism in Lazio

In Lazio, wine tourism stands at the intersection between cultural diversity and a rich gourmet food heritage. From the culture of Antiquity to the hustle and bustle of life in Rome, the Vatican, gastronomy and wines, the region has everything it takes to offer a rewarding wine tourism experience. Family-run wineries, like Villa Simone, and larger co-operative wineries like Cincinnato are often open every day. As per local traditions, the people of Rome still regularly visit wineries to buy their wine directly. The most romantic will arrive with a demi-john, whereas more modern imbibers will come empty-handed and go away with a bag-in-box.

Broadening your wine horizons by taking a trip to the vineyards of Lazio is most definitely a great idea.

Anne Schoendoerffer ©AdobeStock_margot

Sources : , Anne Schoendoerffer