The terroir

Cerignola is in the province of Foggia, in the Daunia region, and more precisely on the Basso Tavoliere, which is the southernmost part of the plain known as the Tavoliere delle Puglie. The Tavoliere has alluvial origins and is protected to the north by the Gargano Promontory and to the west by the Daunian Pre-Apennines. To the east lies the Gulf of Manfredonia, which mitigates the cold air from the Balkans in winter.

The soil is characterized by its high limestone content and good drainage properties.

The climate is mild in winter, with adequate rainfall and rare snowfall, but very hot in summer, with temperatures above 40°C not unusual in July and August, and rainfall rare.

Grapes have always been grown in these climates and at these latitudes. The earliest evidence of viticulture in the area dates from the 4th-5th centuries BC, and can be found on the richly decorated wine cups produced by the Daunians. Several testimonies maintain that nero di Troia, the quintessential native grape variety, was brought to Daunia by Diomedes, the Achaean hero of the Trojan War.

More recently, it is worth recalling that Cerignola played a leading role on the wine market throughout the 19th century, even exporting bottles of Nero di Troia to France. This was the period of the great landowners, who visited their enormous estates by train: the Pavoncellis, the La Rochefoucaulds (a French family that owned about a quarter of all the land), and the Zezza barons.

There were dozens of wineries, which were very modern for the time. Many of them have survived, although they've often been converted for other purposes.

Viticulture remains one of the keystones of the economy in Cerignola, alongside olive growing and wheat farming. The most widely grown grape varieties are Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Malvasia, and Moscato. Native grape varieties, such as Nero di Troia, Negroamaro, and Primitivo, are less widespread and prevalently destined for bottling.

Most of the vines are trained using the Puglia pergola system, which protects the fruit from the sun. The vineyards cover much of the area and provide the livelihood for thousands of families. Table grapes are also widely grown.