History of Pinot noir in Oltrepò Pavese

We don’t know much about the Oltrepò Pavese wine production before the 19th century – the same happens almost everywhere in Italy. We don’t even have many documents about it, in particular about the grape varieties that were cultivated.

The 19th century

In 1875 Pinot Noir was mentioned as having already been present in the Oltrepò Pavese area for many years and shortly afterwards (in 1884) its diffusion in local retail was registered (ministerial wine census drawn up in that year by Giuglietti).

Sparkling wine production dates back to the 19th century. In 1875 the first oenological prizes were awarded at the international exhibitions in London and Paris and in 1902 for the sparkling wines produced by Ottaviano Giorgi from Vistarino for "his Italian vino spumante" (English: sparkling wine).

The first half of the 20th century

We have many documents from the first half of the twentieth century on rural tradition.

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Early spread of Pinot Noir
The Pinot Noir grape variety is one of the most sought-after among those used by the Oltrepò Pavese cooperative wineries from 1920 onwards. It was in the very early years of the century (1902-1908) that the Vistarino winery in Rocca de’ Giorgi selected Pinot Noir from the various grape varieties that were tested as the most suitable for sparkling wine production and started to grow it in this area for this purpose.
Large producers

The most important sparkling wine producers in the Oltrepò Pavese, such as the "La Versa" co-operative winery, the "Classese" group and some of the largest producers of Italian Traditional Method sparkling wine of the last century (Cinzano, Gancia, Riccadonna, Martini and Rossi) and of the current century (Berlucchi) used also Pinot Noir grapes from the Oltrepò Pavese to produce their most renowned traditional method sparkling wine bottles.

1970: the DOC

Local wines started to be classified and regulated at a national level as DOC (controlled designation of origin) and in 1970 Oltrepò Pavese Traditional Method sparkling wine (Italian: Oltrepò Pavese Spumante Metodo Classico) was recognised as a type of DOC Oltrepò Pavese. In the following years (1977) the Pinot Noir grape variety was registered to be on 2239 acres of vineyards.

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2007: the DOCG

2007: approval of the designation "Oltrepò Pavese Traditional Method" (Italian: "Oltrepò Pavese metodo classico"), a white and rosè DOCG (a warranty mark used in Italy) sparkling wine.


2011: with the reform of wine procedural guidelines, the DOCG is consolidated and the designation "Pinot Noir Oltrepò Pavese", a DOC (controlled designation of origin) red wine, is approved.