Barbera: 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., 2013. Barbera. 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
Barbera N.
no synonym available for Barbera
released clones (23)
  • shoot
  • leaf
  • bunch
  • berry
Historical references

The first known quotation about Barbera dates back to 1514 and refers to the area of Chieri (Comba and Dal Verme, 1990). Yet the variety had a limited circulation in the centuries immediately following, so that it is not mentioned by G.B. Croce among the grapes from the “Turin mountain" (1606). Only in 1691 there is a reference related to the village of Neive (in the Alba area), where the count Cotti Ceres planted in his farm few rootlings of Barbera (Ricaldone, undated). In 1798 Barbera was reported by the Count Nuvolone among the “first quality grapes” grown in Asti surroundings and in the Frascheja (the plain of Alessandria). Only since mid-nineteenth’s, perhaps because of the arrival of powdery mildew, the culture of Barbera gradually became dominant in the assortment of black wine grapes from Piedmont.

distribution & variation

Barbera is considered one of the most typical grapes from Piedmont. It is also one of the few grape varieties without important synonyms, since everywhere is known with its principal name. It shows, however, several homonyms, because growers used to refer to the common Barbera to name local varieties, currently minor varieties but once rather widespread. Here is therefore a Barbera 'Davi d in Pinerolo area (Turin province), a Barbera Ciarìa (or Ciairìa) in the Roero (Cuneo province), and a Round Barbera in Canavese (Turin province).

There is also a White Barbera in the province of Alessandria, that is not the white grape mutant, but a distinct genotype. In Sardinia there is a different, distinct Barbera (Barbera Sarda) which seems genetically related to other varieties from the island (Nieddu, 2011).

Barbera area in Piedmont covers about 35% of the 55,000 regional ha, being the principal wine grape cultivar of the region. It is the base for numerous appellation wines, including two DOCG, Barbera d'Asti and Barbera del Monferrato superiore. The spread of Barbera in other Italian regions is relatively recent, except for the areas of Lombardy bordering Piedmont. From local historical statistics can be inferred the great expansion of Barbera dates from the mid-nineteenth century: before this period, even in its most typical region, was cultivated in moderate surfaces.

But more than other varieties from Piedmont, Barbera expanded in other wine-growing areas. It is grown in Oltrepò Pavese (Lombardy) and Colli Piacentini (Emilia-Romagna) and used (generally as secondary variety) in other Italian regions from the north-east, the centre and the south of the peninsula. Thanks to its crisp acidity, which does not decline even in warmest climates, Barbera has been successfully planted in Sicily and still enjoys a certain importance in South America and in the Californian Central Valley, where its area is of few thousand hectares.

technological use

Thanks to grape quality and to the stable high productivity, Barbera plays since long times a primary role in the Piedmontese wine production. While in the past the high acidity made the wine been considered unrefined and sometimes shoddy, the enhanced cultural practices and climate changing to more favourable conditions, made Barbera been reconsidered producing quality wines: highly coloured, well structured, moderately long-lived, and even suitable the aging in wood. Traditional in Piedmont is the blend with Freisa, while in the Oltrepò Pavese and Piacenza area is frequently joined to Croatina for the production of fizzy wines (such as Gutturnio and Bonarda dell’Oltrepò Pavese).

bibliographies (5)
authors year title journal citation
Comba R., Dal Verme A. 1990 Repertorio di vini e vitigni diffusi nel Piemonte medievale Vigne e vini nel Piemonte medievale. Ed. L'Arciere, Cuneo.
Croce G.B. 1606 Della eccellenza e diversità dei vini che nella montagna di Torino si fanno; e del modo di farli. In Torino, per Aluigi Pizzamiglio.
Di Ricaldone G. A. 1972 I vini storici di Asti e del Monferrato Camera di Commercio, Industria, Artigianato e Agricoltura di Asti. Asti.
Nieddu G. 2011 Vitigni della Sardegna Convisar, Consorzio Vini e Sardegna
Nuvolone G. 1798 Sulla coltivazione delle viti e sul metodo migliore di fare e conservare i vini. Calendario georgico della Società Agraria di Torino.
updated at 2016-11-14 13:25:51 (7 years ago)