Ancient history that dates back to the Etruscans, who carved out cellar-like caves from volcanic soil, creating cool wine cellars developed on three floors. The grapes were crushed on the ground floor (first level), and the grape must was channeled through clay pipes to the lower areas (second level), where fermentation occurred. After racking, the wine was moved to a lower floor (third level), used for wine maturation and long-term storage. The result was a richly scented, aromatic drink with a slightly sweet taste and golden yellow color, paving the way for the vocation of the territory for white wines.
Subsequently, it became the wine of the Roman Empire and then of the Popes, who resided in the town for many years. The fame and value of this wine was so great that it was used to pay for the enormous work of the Orvieto Cathedral; even the painters Pinturicchio and Signorelli, between the late 1400s and early 1500s, asked for a lifetime supply of the wine in recognition of the frescoes inside the church.
More recently, evidence indicates that the Orvieto wine was used by Garibaldi and his Thousand Men, before leaving the port of Telamon, to toast to the Sicilian adventure.
It was during the 1800s that Orvieto’s wine went from sweet to dry, both to improve the quality of the product and to support the market trend that was becoming increasingly expansive.
In 1931, the unique nature of the Orvieto Wine was acknowledged together with the demarcation of the grape-picking area, while in 1971 the Orvieto DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) was established, certifying a level of quality inherent to the territory in adherence to rigid controls that has made it famous throughout the world.
From the 1997 grape harvest, it is possible to produce an Orvieto wine with the qualification of “Superior”. The latter may be marketed only after March 1st of the year following the harvest, it is obtained thanks to a drastic reduction in production per hectare (from 110 to 80 ql / ha) and must have a minimum alcohol content of 12%.
Until a few years ago viticulture was traditional, with the presence of mixed cultivation, totally replaced today with a complete restructuring of vineyards: a higher planting density and farming systems structured to obtain a smaller amount per plant and therefore, better quality.
The Altarocca Cantina, our organic company, produces both Orvieto Classic (Arcosesto) and Orvieto Classic “Superior” (Albaco), in addition to Red Orvietano DOC (Librato) and other wines that are IGT.