Territory, culture and wines with a history dating back thousands of years

The province of Benevento is in the heart of the Samnite Apennines, which is part of the southern Apennines. It is a natural border and transit territory when one moves from the Tyrrhenian coast to the Adriatic and vice versa: it borders Irpinia to the south, Casertano to the west, Molise to the north, and Puglia to the east.

Its morphological, historical and anthropological characteristics are so unique that for a moment, after the Unification of Italy, it was thought to create a separate region, Sannio precisely. It has certainly been affected by having been over the centuries an enclave of the Papal States.

The Calore Valley, where most farms and grape production are concentrated today, was originally an enclosed basin occupied by a lake, of which the Calore, Tammaro and Sabato were tributaries. That the basin was originally a lake is proved by the fact that today’s Benevento plain and almost all the hills surrounding it, are of Tertiary formation (between 70-63 and 1-2 million years ago), that is, composed of gravelly stratifications, or heaps of pebbles mixed with limestone and sandstone.The soils consist mostly of clay-limestone-siliceous elements, with a few rare erratic granite boulders in the Fortore. In contrast, shell concretions and fish encrustations (Pietraroja, Castelfranco in Miscano), colored marble deposits (Vitulano, Cautano, Paduli), and transparent flints and common chalcedony are not uncommon. There is no shortage of signs of volcanic activity in the area, as in almost all of Campania, such as in the Vitulanese, Telesina and Galdina areas. In the Telesina and Titernina area, then, in addition to thermal and mineral water springs, there are large deposits of gray tuff, evidently formed from volcanic ash, and lignite (Pietraroja), which is an indication of the volcanic origin of those soils. In the northeastern sector, between the Tammaro and Fortore rivers, there is no trace of volcanic soil other than the tuff of Monte Caffarello, in that of San Marco dei Cavoti. You have to go beyond the Fortore in the Galdina region to find another volcanic area. At the site known as “Fontane Padule,” east of San Bartolomeo in Galdo and between the Montauro forest and Alberona, pumice, slag, pieces of black manganese oxide and molten iron in spiral form, as well as layers of papyraceous peat, an immense amount of pyrites and layers of lithoid iron carbonates are found at some depth. Thermo-mineral water sources come out from all points of the province’s soil.

Greeks, Samnites (Pentri, Carricini, Caudini, Irpini), Romans, Goths, Byzantines, Lombards, Normans, and even the Papal State, Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and the Savoy State, all together drew the local landscape, helping to build a mosaic of its community’s identity.

The Samnite landscape is characterized by countless signs left by the cultures that have succeeded one another over time-its “storehouse of history” that testifies to the past, present and future-but also by a strong vocation for wine, signs and territorial vocations that identify its environmental and cultural imprint.

Ten thousand hectares planted with vines, seven thousand nine hundred vintners, about one hundred bottling companies for more than one million hectoliters of wine produced, three designations of origin and one geographical indication for more than sixty types of wines, and a potential of one hundred million bottles are the salient features of the Sannio vineyard, which assigns the Benevento province first place in the Campania wine sector (about 50 percent of the regional wine-growing area and wine production).

Aglianico, sommarello, piedirosso, sciascinoso, agostinella, falanghina, cerreto, coda di volpe, grieco, malvasia, fiano, as well as passolara di San Bartolomeo, olivella, carminiello, palombina, and moscato di Baselice, are just a few examples of the heritage of Samnite biodiversity.

Traveling through its hills it is possible to understand how viticulture characterizes the area, and how it is a subject that protects the landscape and a source of economic livelihood for its people. It should come as no surprise, then, that in Campania’s most agricultural province, the top spot in income generation in agriculture belongs to the wine sector.

In some areas, the grapevine and its vegetative period, mark the time of local community life, particularly in the areas between the Matese massif and Taburno, and from the slopes of Taburno to the Calore River.
Today the entire industry, is going through a renewed enthusiasm, starting with a transformation from an area that was historically viticultural to a wine-growing area, with the birth of new entrepreneurs and new farming techniques, under the sign of a renewed tradition. It is no coincidence that associative structures in the form of cooperatives operate in the province, bringing together nearly two thousand five hundred winegrowers, associative and productive realities that are unique in the regional and southern areas.

The vine, ultimately, is the sign that allows the cultural and social identity of the entire Samnite community to be read.