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Wines of the Titerno River Valley
by John A. Cofrancesco

I can remember my father, a first generation Italian American growing up in Hamden, Connecticut, USA telling me about his childhood and how he remembered his father making wine. The children would help in the “stomping of the grapes” and drink wine with their meals starting at an early age.

Cofrancesco tombstone with grapevines engraved
His father, Nicola Cofranceso, born in Massa di Faicchio, Italy in 1869 and immigrated to America in 1890, loved his wine and winemaking. So much so that when he died in 1927 his family had grapevines engraved on his tombstone. They are visible in the photograph on the right side, just below the cross.

While the Italians did not invent wine, which actually was first made between 4000-3000 B. C. in ancient Mesopotamia located somewhere near modern Iran, it was introduced to Italy by the Greeks, where the Romans improved and refined the wine making process. The Romans fell in love with their wine and drank it with every meal, even serving it to their slaves. They found that certain varieties of grapes grew better in specific regions, and that wine could be improved by aging in wooden barrels. Through the centuries wine became a part of Italian culture, and has become important to everyday Italian life. For more information about the history of Italian winemaking see Italian Wine: The Taste of History and Passion .

To protect and ensure the quality of wine, in the 1960’s the Italian government started to regulate the wine industry through a series of labels to indicate the wine met certain requirements. The four major categories of Italian wines are as follows:

 DOCG Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita
("Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin")
These wines (about 30 all over Italy) are from the finest wine regions (Chianti, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, Franciacorta, Taurasi), and must pass strict production controls as well as the evaluation of a tasting committee before they are bottled. Before a wine could become DOCG it must be a DOC wine for at least five years.
 DOC Denominazione di Origine Controllata
("Denomination of Controlled Origin")
These wines are produced in well-defined regions, according to rules designed to preserve the specific traditional winemaking practices of the individual regions. There are about 700 DOC wines in Italy.
 IGT Indicazione Geografica Tipica
("Typical Geographical Indication")
These wines are produced in a specific, sometimes wide, area and they characterized by the indication of the origin area, the predominant tendril and the year of production.
  Vino da Tavola
("Table Wine")
the lowest category of wine, made as the producer sees fit.

The producers of wine in Massa di Faicchio in the Titerno River Valley range from that made by Biagio (Ciccio) Cofrancesco in his home, to the vineyards of the Marchese Agriturismo, to larger commercial vintners such as La Vinicola Del Titerno. Wines produced by Biagio (I1260) are fairly typical of those made by many Italian homeowners. Note that the bottle label states: "For the exclusive private consumption of the producer, non-marketable".

Biagio's wine label
Marchese Stand
 The bottle label of Biagio Cofrancesco's wine
"for the exclusive private consumption of the producer" and his friends...
 The Marchese Stand
at the Sagra Enogastronomica

of Massa di Faicchio (Bevenento, Italy)

The Marchese Agriturismo, owed by the Marchese family, is an Italian version of a bed and breakfast.  The food and wine served is grown, raised, and/or produced on their own property. The wine is sold each year in Massa at the "Sagra enogastronomica", as well as other places.

La Vinicola Del Titerno is a wine company located in Massa di Faicchio, started in 1982 by Angelo Di Leone (I1253) and his sons, Talio and Alfredo. Their web site is La Vinicola Del Titerno.


Angelo's great grandmother was Gelsomina Cofrancesco (I1183).
La Vinicola del Titerno produces the following wines, some of which are DOC rated:
Coda di Volpe
Lacryma Christi
Lacryma Christi ("Tears of Christ") was first made by the Jesuits, who owned vineyards near Mont Vesuvius.

Vini, masserie e Massa 2008
The poster of the wine festival, "Vini Masserie e Massa",
held in Massa di Faicchio every year

To learn more:

 Link A.I.S. Associazione Italiana Sommelier (Italian Sommelier Association)

 Link A.S.I. Association de la Sommellerie internationale (International Sommelier Association)

 Link Lavinium - Italian wine online guide

 Link Made in Sannio - The web site of the typical products of the Sannio

 Link Vino Campania - The web site of the wines of the Region Campania

 Link Vinum - The European wine magazine

 Link Wine Spectator - The most important American wine magazine

 Link Vini del Sannio - A good web site about the wines of the Sannio

Last Updated ( Monday, 17 November 2008 )
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