Geography and territory
A landscape designed by the vine
The whole of Piedmont is a region dedicated to viticulture, but the Monferrato district has a particular devotion: vineyards cover almost all the hilltops and slopes, alternating with small woods. The reason for this particular vocation lies in the excellent combination of climate and geological conformation of the soils, which has enabled extensive dissemination of the grape varieties, most of which are autochthonous (native), and consequently a wide variety of wines.
In the Monferrato district, the vine and wine are not just one of the main sources of wealth, but also an expression of culture and tradition, fruit of a tenacious attachment to the land and centuries of hard work, required to implement an exceptionally extensive agricultural transformation.
Monferrato times three
Alto Monferrato is the south-east area, in the province of Alessandria, with quite evident hills, towers and castles, the towns of Ovada and Acqui Terme. This is the home of Barbera del Monferrato and Cortese wines Basso Monferrato, or the Casalese district, stretches north-eastwards, with low hills sloping down to the Po, with the town of Casale on the border and the characteristic villages of Cellamonte and Vignale Monferrato (home of the Enoteca Regionale del Monferrato (Monferrato Regional Wine Store) This district produces Barbera and Grignolino wines.
Monferrato Astigiano occupies almost the whole province of Asti, on the right and left banks of the River Tanaro, with gently rolling hills and numerous historic boroughs such as Costigliole, Nizza, Canelli, Cortanze, Cocconato, Montiglio, and the town of Asti, birthplace of Alfieri. Besides being the home of the great Barbera d’Asti, it is also the place where Italian spumante originated last century and which now offers a huge variety of grape varieties and wines.
The woods – past and present
In ancient times, the Monferrato district was almost entirely covered with woodland, with holm oaks, elms, hornbeams, maples and chestnuts on the hilly slopes and poplars, willows and alders in the valleys. Due to agricultural colonisation, they almost all disappeared over the centuries, remaining only in steeply sloping areas or those with northerly exposure or belonging to noble families who have taken care of their maintenance.
Where agriculture has recently been abandoned, the woods are regaining control, but differ from their primitive ancestors due to the presence of the False Acacia, a tree imported from America, offering hardwood which is ideal as fuel and for making posts for use in vineyards.
Wild boar, foxes, badgers, weasels, stoats, martens, dormice, hedgehogs, numerous reptiles and birds inhabit today’s woods. The buzzard, brown kite and (along the river) wader populations are on the increase.