Land of good wine and delightful traditions

Capriva del Friuli lies on the very outskirts of the southern Collio region, surrounded by gently rolling hills, sheltering the districts of Russiz Superiore, Russiz Inferiore, Spessa and Budignacco, inhabited since ancient times, as shown by the flint artefacts that have been discovered, dating from the ancient paleolithic and eneolithic ages.

The area was certainly inhabited during the Roman domination, and proof of this comes from the many Roman remains found in the countryside at the foot of Spessa castle. In particular, after a dig conducted by the Superintendency of Archaeology in 1990, the remains of a Roman furnace dating from the I-II century BC were unearthed. It was probably in use until the 3rd century AD. Not much is known about Capriva throughout the late ancient period, given the almost complete lack of remains or records. This is understandable, if we consider that the zone was subject to invasions from peoples of the East, and that after the Hungarian attacks between 898 and 954, the zone was so depopulated and had been pillaged to such an extent that the Patriarchs of Aquileia were forced to bring Slavic peasants into the devastated villages. To find the first documentary evidence of Capriva, we need to go as far back as 1224, when according to C. Czoernig, vassal of the Count of, witnessed a donation of five estates to the Aquileian monastery of St. Mary. Still according to C. Czoernig, again in 1307, the villa of Capriva was loaned by Henry II, Count of Gorizia to the governess of his son Mainardo. At that time, Capriva was part of the estate of the Counts of Gorizia, a family of German origin, vassal of the Patriarch of Aquileia. After the Patriarchs’ power came to an end, in 1420 Capriva came under Venetian rule, and in 1521 was handed to Austria, under whose dominion it remained until 1918. “Rundbogenstil” which was common among Austrian and German architects in Trieste.

On the summit of the hill of Russiz Inferiore stands the Mausoleum of Count Theodore La Tour. Intended to be the count’s tomb, in actual fact it does not contain his remains, that were taken to Treffen (Carinthia), but it is home to the Chapel of St. Joseph. At Russiz Superiore stands the church of St. John the Baptist, with a small wall belfry, rebuilt after the First World War. In the centre of the village, around the parish church, stands the Centa, a sprawling rural fortification, dating from medieval times, recently restored and refurbished. Capriva del Friuli is now completely dominated by its best and most traditional agricultural occupation: wine production.

The passion of this region and its inhabitants for vines and wine has also been recorded in several historic documents: the Chartarium Monasterii Aquileiensis which refers to sales of vines and property dating back to 1180, and the History of the last war of Friuli, (1623) which refers to the quality of the vines of Capriva. It is one of the most famous areas in the Gorizian Collio region. The hills surrounding the town to the north have been transformed into terraced slopes, here known as “ronchi”, with rows of vines planted using the “upside down” method. In the centre, the areas that have always enjoyed the best reputation are the large amphitheatre of Spessa, a warmer area than the outlying San Floriano and Dolegna zones, and the small highland areas of Russiz Superiore, slightly cooler and airier than Spessa, where the micro-climate and soil provide the perfect growing conditions for white grapes. The best results on these hills are obtained from Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio, with a truly enviable strength and complex bouquet, as well as Sauvignon and Tocai, not only well-structured but expressing a remarkably delicate, well-balanced aspect of the varietal. These two zones have also long been renowned for the quality of their red wines, especially Merlot and Cabernet, yet their reputation only received full acclaim during the 1990s, when certain vineyards managed to produce wines able to compete on an equal footing with the best wines in Italy.

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