Bonarda: general information

general information managed by Istituto per la Protezione Sostenibile delle Piante - CNR
How to cite this source Schneider A., Torello Marinoni D., Raimondi S., 2014. Bonarda. In: Italian Vitis Database,, ISSN 2282-006X
acknowledgments Ager Foundation, Regione Piemonte
botanical information
type of origin
Vitis vinifera
variety group
not available
variety for
Registered in the National Catalogue
Official name
Bonarda N.
documented synonyms (3)
synonyms documented by the Istitution that appear with the eventual support of the literature
  • Negrìn (Val d'Ossola, Verbania province)
  • Bonarda di Chieri (Piemonte)
  • Bonarda piemontese
released clones (1)
  • shoot
  • leaf
  • bunch
  • berry
Historical references

To our knowledge, the name Bonarda appears for the first time in 1685 among the notes written by Count Pier Francesco Cotti in his Giornale di me (Di Ricaldone, 1972), regarding some scions to be planted in his own vineyard in Neive (Cuneo).

We can’t determine with any certainty what grape variety was discussed in this paper, nor what was briefly described under this name by Count Nuvolone in 1798, although the few features of Bonarda this author enumerates fit well the subject variety.

By contrast, the descriptions that Giuseppe Acerbi reports for two Bonarda varieties cultivated in Valenza and Oltrepò Pavese respectively, appear to bear little resemblance to the morphology of Bonarda piemontese.

The description in the work of Lorenzo Francesco Gatta, dated 1838 and based on vines observed in Strambino (Turin province), certainly refers to Uva rara, as  are the 'Bonarde' of ' Balsamine Family' described by Abbot Milano in 1839 in his ‘Delle viti e dei vini della provincia biellese’ ('About the vines and wines of the province of Biella').

In addition to that of Nuvolone, we can possibly find the first brief description certainly attributable to Bonarda Piemontese in the reference to Bonarda mentioned among the grapes 'typically of the capital' (Turin) by Count Gallesio in 1831 in his ‘Giornali dei viaggi’ ('Journal of travels') (1995). Besides Ampelografia Italiana (Comitato Centrale Ampelografico, 1879-90), which includes an extensive discussion about this cultivar, we can mention as surely attributable to the variety in question the description reported in ‘Ampelografia della Provincia di Alessandria’ by Demaria and Leardi (1875) and obviously the monograph prepared for the Agriculture Ministry by Giovanni Dalmasso and associates (1963).

distribution & variation

The cultivars identified as Bonarda are not only numerous, but are spread in a relatively narrow distribution area, entirely included in the Piedmont region and in neighbouring Oltrepò pavese.

Thanks to the ampelographic studies undertaken at different times (Comitato Centrale Ampelografico, 1879-90; Schneider and Mannini, 1993), the complicated situation of these homonyms has long been made clear: in addition to Bonarda piemontese, that, as said by Rovasenda (who extended the monograph on the aforementioned Ampelografia Italiana) "has its main cultivation area in the hills above Turin, from Chivasso to Gassino and Chieri and is quite common towards Asti and also in minor quantity along the foothills of the Alps", we find a second variety, 'Bonarda novarese' whose name comes from the main cultivation area, which coincides with the cultivar called more correctly Uva rara; a third variety, widespread in the area of Cisterna d'Asti, in Tortona surroundings and in Oltrepò pavese and more sporadically in the Monferrato area which belongs to Alessandria, corresponds to Croatina. Also, in recent times Refosco di Faedis has been spread in Piedmont by some nurseries instead of Bonarda piemontese. Finally  in Piedmont  there are some minor cultivars sometimes called Bonarda, often adding to the generic name a geographical or traditional specification (B. 'd Macoun, B. di Cuceglio, etc.); under these names are concealed distinct local varieties such as Neretto duro, Zanello and Durasa.

It should also be remembered that to remedy the confusion within the homonyms, the original name of this grape on the National Register was 'Bonarda piemontese', then changed into Bonarda. The present distribution of Bonarda still reflects that indicated by Rovasenda, but during the last decades of the '900 has had some expansion in many other wine-growing areas of Piedmont, thanks to some success, now decreased, of the wine made from it. The total Italian area cultivated with the true Bonarda is very modest and it is estimated less than 100 hectars, out of a total of 750 hectars in 2010 which, however, includes a large share of Croatina (in Lombardia and Emilia Romagna) and Uva rara (in Northern Piedmont).

technological use

Bonarda has a medium-early ripening and provides intensely colored and soft wines, thanks to the low acidity that characterizes it. Once produced mainly in the sparkling types and often with residual sugar, today it tends to change this use, obtaining also still wines that can withstand a short aging.

bibliographies (9)
authors year title journal citation
Comitato Centrale Ampelografico 1879 Ampelografia Italiana Ministero d'Agricoltura, lit. Doyen (Torino)
Dalmasso G., Cacciatore M., Corte A. 1964 Bonarda Principali vitigni da vino coltivati in Italia - Volume III, Ministero dell'Agricoltura e delle Foreste (Roma)
Demaria P.P., Leardi C. 1875 Ampelografia della provincia di Alessandria Ed. Negro, Torino.
Di Ricaldone G. A. 1972 I vini storici di Asti e del Monferrato Camera di Commercio, Industria, Artigianato e Agricoltura di Asti. Asti.
Gallesio G. 1995 I giornali dei viaggi A cura di E. Baldini. Accademia dei Georgofili, Firenze.
Gatta L. F. 1833 Cenno intorno alle viti ed ai vini della provincia di Ivrea. In: Calendario Georgico della Reale Società agraria di Torino per l'anno 1833.
Milano D. 1839 Sulle viti e sui vini della provincia biellese: memoria Tip. Rachetti ved. Caligaris. Varallo Sesia.
Nuvolone G. 1798 Sulla coltivazione delle viti e sul metodo migliore di fare e conservare i vini. Calendario georgico della Società Agraria di Torino.
Schneider A., Mannini F. 1993 Guida all'identificazione del vitigno "Bonarda Piemontese" Vignevini: Rivista italiana di Viticoltura e di Enologia 20 (9): 25-32
updated at 2016-11-14 14:24:09 (6 years ago)