From a major British encyclopedia, 1911 edition.
The vine is cultivated throughout the length and breadth of Italy,
but while in some of the districts of the south and centre it occupies
from 10 to 20% of the cultivated area, in some of the northern
provinces, such as Sondrio, Belluno, Grosseto, &c., the average is
only about 1 or 2%. The methods of cultivation are varied; but
the planting of the vines by themselves in long rows of insignificant
bushes is the exception.
In Lombardy, Emilia, Romagna, Tuscany,
the Marches, Umbria and the southern provinces, they are trained
to trees which are either left in their natural state or subjected to
pruning and pollarding. In Campania the vines are allowed to climb
freely to the tops of the poplars. In the rest of Italy the elm and
the maple are the trees mainly employed as supports. Artificial
props of several kinds—wires, cane work, trellis work, &c.—are also
in use in many districts (in the neighbourhood of Rome canes are
almost exclusively employed), and in some the plant is permitted
to trail along the ground.
The vintage takes place, according to
locality and climate, from the beginning of September to the beginning
of November. The vine has been attacked by the Oidium Tuckeri,
the Phylloxera vastatrix and the Peronospora viticola, which in
rapid succession wrought great havoc in Italian vineyards. American
vines, are, however, immune and have been largely adopted.
production of wine in the vintage of 1907, which was extraordinarily
abundant all over the country, was estimated at 1232 million gallons
(56 million hectolitres), the average for 1901-1903 being some 352
million gallons less; of this the probable home consumption was
estimated at rather over half, while a considerable amount remained
over from 1906. The exportation in 1902 only reached about 45
million gallons (and even that is double the average), while an equally
abundant vintage in France and Spain rendered the exportation of
the balance of 1907 impossible, and fiscal regulations rendered the
distillation of the superfluous amount difficult.
The quality, too,
owing to bad weather at the time of vintage, was not good; Italian
wine, indeed, never is sufficiently good to compete with the best wines
of other countries, especially France (though there is more opening
for Italian wines of the Bordeaux and Burgundy type); nor will
many kinds of it stand keeping, partly owing to their natural qualities
and partly to the insufficient care devoted to their preparation.
There has been some improvement, however, while some of the
heavier white wines, noticeably the Marsala of Sicily, have excellent
keeping qualities. The area cultivated as vineyards has increased
enormously, from about 4,940,000 acres to 9,880,000 acres, or about
14% of the total area of the country.
Over-production seems thus
to be a considerable danger, and improvement of quality is rather
to be sought after. This has been encouraged by government prizes
The Death of Godwine 1053
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