Few people have heard of Montonico, but the grape variety has a long, significant history. One source dating back to 1615, from the Catasto Onciario, shows the existence of a variety with that name that was being grown around Bisenti, near Teramo. Numerous other sources since then have also referred to it as a very productive and quality variety. Over the centuries it has represented an important source of livelihood and income for the population of this poor mountainous area on the slopes of Gran Sasso. Initially it was well known as a table grape and not so much for the wine that it produces. A register from 1938 indicates that 1400 tonnes of montonico grapes were produced in Bisenti and Poggio delle Rose di Cermignano and exported to Germany as table grapes. But starting from the end of the Second World War, montonico grapes were established and cultivated for winemaking purposes.
Until the 1960s, this variety was widespread throughout Abruzzo, but over the following decade the area that it was cultivated on began to shrink. Today it is cultivated almost exclusively around Bisenti and Cermignano, which were the areas where it was more intensely cultivated in the past. Over time it adapted well to the land close to the Gran Sasso and it can grow at even over 500 meters above sea level. In fact, it is a very vigorous vine, which thanks to its innate gift for adaptation has found its true identity here in this corner of the world. The local adversities of this pedoclimate (cold winters and hard, pebbly, chalky soil) have attributed to the grape’s typical sensory characteristics.
The variety has a large, elongated bunch, with an almost cylindrical shape, and the berries are large and round with a thick, greenish-yellow skin. The variety has a good tolerance to botrytis attacks and has plenty of pulp; the must obtained from pressing the grapes is pale straw-yellow, tending towards green, with a fresh, floral nose.
These grapes were traditionally eaten fresh or as raisins or made into wine or vinegar. After having risked becoming extinct in recent decades, the montonico grape is now grown predominantly on family plots of land and production levels remain low. It is mostly made into wine or tied, bunch by bunch, and hung from the beams of the houses and left there to dry until the Christmas period, the time of the year when it was traditionally consumed. The local community continues to celebrate it at the local grape and wine festival, held in October in the historic centre of Bisenti. Floats showing rural scenes linked to the grape harvest parade through the streets.
Montonico grapes are harvested at the end of September. Products are available all year round.
Bisenti and Cermignano municipalities (Poggio delle Rose district), Teramo province
Presidium supported by
Gal Leader Teramano
di Rosa Narcisi
Tel. +39 320 1879195
Via Chioviano Basso, 38
Tel. +39 340 5537497
Contrada Chioviano I
Tel. +39 320 1547875