Viticultural area: Calabria

Associated viticultural areas Italy Italy Calabria Calabria

The Costa Viola

Wine-growing method of Costa ViolaThe history of vine-growing in Calabria goes back to the times of the Magna Grecia. It was the origin of the name Enotria (“vine post” and then “wine land”) attributed to the whole of Calabria by the ancient Greeks. The first documents concerning viticulture on the Costa Viola, in Reggio Calabria province (communes of Villa San Giovanni, Scilla, Bagnara, Seminara and Palma), are dated around 1000 AD, the year which coincided with the expansion of the Basilian communities, favouring its expansion until it covered an area of about 1,000 ha. Even then wine-growing played a leading role in the local economy along with fishing and trading. In 1409 Carlo Ruffo, a new feudal lord, further extended terraced vine-growing between Bagnara and Scilla. In 1648 wine-growing was at its peak with at least 1000 ha. In 1881 attacks by phylloxera led to the main vine areas being abandoned and the vineyards were totally destroyed by 1910. Reconstruction started but was slowed down by the events of the First World War and has never been completed, continuing slowly and gradually.

Facts and figures

Total wine-growing area of Reggio Calabria Province (ha.)


Total wine-growing area on difficult terrain
(altitude, steep slopes, terracing) (ha.)

about 200.

Area with slopes > 30% (ha.)

about 200.

Area at an altitude > 500 m above sea level (ha.)

about 5

Area terraced (ha.)

about 200

Maximum altitude of the vineyards (m above sea level)

470 -500

Vineyards on difficult terrain

All along the Costa Viola: wine-growing terraces along 20 km of coast

(Data updated to 2006)

Subdivision of the area

Much of the area is broken up into miniscule holdings: 95% of the area consists of plots of less than 0.2 ha; with only  the remaining 5% of holdings having a larger area.

Wine-growing landscape

The main traits, as well as the terraces that reach right down almost to the sea, are the many rivers and streams that cross the whole area carving out their path and creating tiny valleys. Lengthwise, the area is split into three parts by the SA-RC motorway (A3), the main road No. 18 and the railway line that feature heavily throughout the area. A study was recently proposed to set up the “Protected landscape of the Costa Viola” In addition, a “Costa Viola wine and taste ecotrail “ has been inaugurated, and with the setting up of a first wine-gowing cooperative called "Enopolis Costa Viola" vineyards are gradually being renewed.
The villages are spread along the coast, downhill from the vineyards.
The rural road network is inadequate, as well as being in precarious conditions especially due to repeated landslides, in particular in the areas where vineyards have been abandoned.

Main vines

White grapes:

  • Moscato d’Alessandria
Black grapes:

  • Malvasia nera
  • Nerello
  • Prunesta
  • "Patri niru" or "patrineri" (maybe Pinot nero)
  • Gaglioppo
  • Sangiovese 
  • Castiglione
Data provided by: Regione Calabria, ISTAT, UAZ (Area Agricultural Offices), IPA Wine-growing records
 - Rosario Previtera