Calabria is a wine region in southern Italy located across the Strait of Messina from Sicily. This largely rural region is best known for its production of red wines from the Gaglioppo grape.
Calabria has 12 different DOC regions, but only 4% of total annual wine production comes from these DOC regions. The most famous DOC is Ciro, which is located in the eastern foothills along the Ionian coast. There, 95% of the red wine production is based on the Gaglioppo grape. The most recognized wine from Calabria is Ciro Rosso Riserva. Another popular wine is Greco di Bianco, which comes from Calabria’s southeast coast.
In terms of overall wine production, the mix is 90% red wines and 10% white wines. Until relatively recently, Calabria has primarily been a bulk wine producer, with red wines sold to winemaking cooperatives, which in turn sell these wines to other producers in northern Italy for red blends.
The history of winemaking in Calabria dates back to the ancient Greeks. The famous athlete Milo of Croton was said to live in Calabria and prepare for athletic competitions by drinking Calabrian wine. In the 1st century A.D., Pliny the Elder wrote about Calabria’s wines. In the 19th century, Calabria was hit hard by a phylloxera outbreak that decimated vineyards. By the 20th century, New World wine producers began to take on some of the bulk wine production that Calabria once handled.
In terms of climate, Calabria has a Mediterranean climate. This is largely explained by the region’s location in the “toe” of the Italian boot. To the north of Calabria are the Apennine Mountains.