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Region: Lazio

Roma DOC

Roma is one of the newest DOC’s, which was in the race for regulating the Italian wine production until a new EU regulation attributed wine-related decision-making to Brussels. The approval for DOC came in November 2011.

Roma DOC is located in the Lazio region, and although the appellation is new, wine production is by no means a novelty in the area surrounding the Italian capital, since the Etruscans already established the tradition around 800 BC. Later, in the 2nd century BC, the quality of the wine reportedly reached quite a high level, so it was sold in public places (thermopolia) within the city.

Moreover, in the nearby port of Ostia, wine exportation was very profitable business for merchants, but when the Roman Empire began to crumble (3rd-4th century AD), there were political and administrative issues that led to the growing sector experiencing decline due to high taxes, which did not make life very easy for the hard-pressed wine growers.

In the 4th century, Emperor Theodosius (347-395 CE) felt the need to regulate some matters, so he introduced, among other things, the death penalty for those who, “with unholy cutters” dared to steal from the fields. However, there were very few vineyards left after the numerous internal conflicts of the empire, and the vineyards were mostly located very close to the city.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire (between the 5th-10th century), the church, through its bishops, monks, religious orders and prosperous nobility, was given an important attribution with regard to the preservation and the improvement of the area’s wine related heritage. Wine demand increased with the influence of the church, and far from insignificant amounts of the alcoholic fluid were consumed in the hallowed halls of the “Ager Vaticanus”, which could aptly excuse a strong alcohol intake on the numerous church holidays, where the liturgy coincidentally included “holy wine” (vino santo). Roma’s massive population growth also played a major role.

The importance of wine grew even further in the following years, thus the statutes of the city of Rome provided that a stranger was not entitled to citizenship if he did not own a house in Rome and a winery within a distance of three miles of the city.

In 1692, the Accademia dei Vignaioli (Winegrowers Academy) was established, and Pope Alexander VII decided to extend the vineyards around Rome with “4839 RUBBI” (8,945 hectares).

Since it was the Pope’s task to take good care of his flock, there were many taverns and inns established to take (very good) care of the many incoming pious, but especially thirsty pilgrims. An edict required that only local wine (from Rome and its surroundings) could be sold in the taverns.

In 1854, Pope Pius IX established the University “l’Università dei mercanti di vino” (Wine Traders University), where they formed an Association of already existing associations of wine merchants, “Collegium Vinariorum Urbis”. One can see the coat of arms of the Association, “Vinea nostra floruit”, which today is kept in the courtyard of the Church of Santa Maria, in Trivio.

During the centuries, wine making has maintained its cultured role in the region. Thus, numerous wine fairs and wine festivals are held every year around Rome, including “Festa dei vini e dell’Uva di Velletri” (the “splendor of grape and wine” festival) in Marino, where wine temptingly flows through the city fountains.

One can reasonably wonder whether Roma could possibly need a separate DOC, since there are already several of its kind in Lazio. Time will tell if the appellation can bring something new to the region or if it is just a smart PR stunt for the tourists passing through the Leonardo da Vinci airport duty-free shops.

So far, in this zone there are produced three types of white wine, two types of red, a rosé and a Spumante (Champagne type).

Read more about the wines from Roma DOC by clicking i the top menu in the right side.