The history of
this region is quite particular, given its geographic, ethnical,
and cultural location as a frontier hub between central Europe to
the north, the Slav regions to the east and the Italian Peninsula
to the west and south. One of the oldest inhabited Italian regions,
it is believed that the first humans here dated back as much as
20,000 years ago.
Around 1000 B.C., the Illyrian built fortified villages creating
a basic social structure, but with the arrival of the Romans, the
land and society was restructured following the Roman model. They
built roads, introduced new flora, parceled up the land for cultivation
and founded cities, of which Aquileia is a valuable example that
has survived to the present days.
With the fall of the Roman empire and the subsequent invasion of
barbaric tribes, the lqand emptied as the inhabitants fled to safer
areas and the region's development slowed to almost a standstill.
In the Eighteenth century Charles of Hapsburg established the free
ports of Trieste and Fiume, giving the Austrian empire access
to the Mediterranean Sea. This generated a wide economic and social
gap between these two newly prosperous centers and the poverty-ridden
Friuli and Carnia areas.
The local wines are remarkable for the number of grape varieties
that are used in their blends. In addition to the native grapes,
different varieties have been introduced over time. Add to this
the winemaking skills of the Friulani, and the result is the creation
of exceptional wines.
The foremost white wine produced in this region is the Tocai Friulano.
Because of a confusion between a Hungarian grape called Tokaj and
a French one called Tokay, the European Community has demanded name
changes of the French and Friuli grapes by 2006, allowing Hungary
to keep the original Tokaj name. As a result, in a few years this
most appreciated local white will be known under a different denomination,
which we hope won't be an uninspired generic name such as Friuli
Bianco or Bianco Friulano.
Among the red produced in Friuli Venezia Giulia are Cabernet
Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Collio and Collio Cabernet, Merlot, Pignolo,
Pinot Nero, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, Schioppettino, Tazzelenghe.