Grapes have been grown on the island of Ischia since ancient times
This tradition dates back to the 8th century B.C. when Greek colonists founded Pithecusae, a very important Mediterranean trading emporium. It seems likely that together with the art of pottery, the Euboeans also passed on their expert knowledge about viticulture to the local populations. We do not know with any certainty whether the first grape varieties were Greek. However, we do know that the island proved to be the perfect place for growing grapes and the local people turned it into a profitable trade that still continues today.
Ischia has a large number of wineries, with some producing award-winning wines. However, many of the farmers still make wine at home in their ancient cellars carved out of the tuff. A genuine white or red wine flavoured with sun and fruit, which is served in simple earthenware carafes in Ischia’s inns, restaurants and taverns. The most widespread varieties are: biancolella, forastera, guarnaccia and piedirosso, also known as per’’e palummo.
The island grape harvest is an unmissable occasion. From the end of September, Ischia’s countryside is teeming with people. Everyone is required to get involved in the grape harvest. Once the tools have been downed, the grapes are left to rest and do their slow work.
And when the harvest ends, the party begins: after so much hard work, a real feast has to be laid on, with rich, restorative food. Taking part in the grape harvest festivities or even in picking the grapes themselves is a truly unmissable experience. It is like taking a step back in time to when everything was more authentic and people were really in contact with the land. This ritual takes place on the island at the end of every summer, in mid-September or early October.
And the result is revealed on the feast of St Martin in November: this is when the new wine is tasted for the first time. And it’s of course time for another party. Preserving these ancient traditions, the Cantine Pietratorica in Forio open up the new wine celebrations to everyone on a yearly basis. November is always a mild month on the island and drinking together brings even more warmth to the atmosphere if required.