Cinque Terre - Wine

Cinque Terre wine

You cannot travel to the Cinque Terre without tasting the local wines. Wine making has been a crucial part of the history of the Cinque Terre and the vineyards on the cultivated terraces make this stretch of coastline so unique. When you hike up to a vineyard and look around the green terraces, that's when you'll understand the heroic winemaking and the essence of the Cinque Terre.

People have been making wine here for about a 1,000 years, on an extremely difficult terrain. The vineyards of the Cinque Terre are located on the steep hills and farmers have to go on a serious hike just to get to their terraces. Also, as you cannot use machines on the terraces, work is done by hand even today.

Gastronomy - Wine

Since the 1970s there has been a significant improvement both in quality and quantity due to technical developments. A monorail system has been built to transport grapes, tools and people up and down the steep hills. The 50 small trains make the work and the harvest in the vineyards easier and more efficient, but it's still tough, you really need love and dedication to do it.

Gastronomy - Wine

Both the white wine Cinque Terre DOC and the sweet dessert wine, the Sciacchetrá Cinque Terre DOC, are worth trying. On the label of Cinque Terre wines, you can see "DOC" (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) since 1973. This means quality wine with controlled origin and strict regulations. Cinque Terre wines are usually mineral with a straw yellow colour, with aromas of herbs and citrus fruits.

Cinque Terre bianco DOC is made with three different grapes: Bosco, Albarola and Vermentino. It goes well together with local dishes like seafood risotto, fried anchovies or pasta with pesto.

Gastronomy - Wine

Sciacchetrá, the queen of Cinque Terre wines is made with the same three grapes. This delicious passito is made with the selection of the best grapes which are dried for about 2 months.

Gastronomy - Wine

It is usually consumed as dessert with typical Italian biscuits (biscotti, pandolce, panforte) dipped into the wine. It is an expensive wine so people usually keep a bottle for special occasions like weddings. When a child is born, families usually get a bottle of Sciacchetrá and only open it on the child's 18th birthday.

Today you can also find some red and rose wines made in the Cinque Terre.

Gastronomy - Wine

If you would like to taste local wines, I recommend the following wine tastings and wine tours. The wine tastings usually take place in a local wine bar or tasting room, while during the wine tours you will also meet the winegrower, listen to his story and visit his vineyard. You can book all these wine tastings and tours online, directly on my website.

You can also visit a vineyard and a wine cellar on-line, just watch this video.
Italian gastrotrip: visit to the vineyard and wine cellar of Luciano Capellini.

Of course you can also taste different Cinque Terre wines in the local restaurants, or you can buy them in the cantina in Groppo or in the small stores of the villages. There are many small winemakers, usually making quality wine in small quantities, here are some of my favourites:

  • Walter de Batte and Prima Terra - Riomaggiore and Campiglia
  • Terre sospese di Andrea Pecunia - Riomaggiore
  • Burasca di Cesare Scorza - Manarola
  • Cantina del vin bun di Luciano Capellini - Manarola and Volastra
  • La Polenza di Stefania Basso - Corniglia
  • Azienda Agricola CheO di Bertram Lise Charlotte - Vernazza
  • Cantina Buranco - Monterosso

If you would like to read more about wine in the Cinque Terre, I recommend the beautiful book of Catherina Unger, Vineyards with seaview. (Vigneti con vista mare). I love reading her words about the passion of local people for their land. She introduces all the winegrowers of the Cinque Terre, talking about their history, present and future plans as well.

"During the second half of the last century, the cultivated area of the Cinque Terre was abruptly abandoned with the consequence that many dry-stone walls disintegrated. This caused landslides that destroyed the terracing. After the creating of the Cinque Terre National Park and its inclusion into the world heritage sites of UNESCO, the territory of the Cinque Terre became internationally famous. We began to feel a responsibility towards our ancestors and the whole world. In fact the vineyards are disappearing primarily in the hillsides that surround Vernazza, paradoxically the most scenic and the most visited village of the Cinque Terre.

For this reason we wanted to return to the world a hill that was once cultivated with grapevines and for centuries symbolically signified the love that the people of Vernazza felt for their own territory and that recently was lost in abandonment. We made this effort also wishing to set an example for the inhabitants and the visitors of the Cinque Terre. Now this vineyard has been completely restored - it dominates the village, touching and embracing it and seems to give back a kind of new dignity to the viticulture of Vernazza.

From the mere viticultural-oenological point of view, we believe that the quality of the wine does not depend exclusively on the grape varietal of which it has been made, but above all it depends on the interaction of grapes, man and a combination of unique environmental factors that are impossible to recreate outside of a specific territory. Therefore we are strongly convinced that a great wine can only be created by using high-quality grapes within a territory that has a distinct personality." (Azienda Agricola CheO)

Catherina is a passionate photographer, her beautiful photos accompany the texts. The book also makes a perfect gift for someone interested in wine.

Vineyards with seaview