Fifty Years of Viticulture Protection, A Great Milestone Traversed by the Consortium of Friuli Colli Orientali and Ramandolo Wines

The year 2020 has seen half a century of growth for the Consorzio Tutela Vini Friuli Colli Orientali e Ramandolo (Consortium for the Protection of Friuli Colli Orientali and Ramandolo Wines). It’s an important milestone achieved by the wine consortium in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the northern part of Italy. And along this long voyage it traversed in five decades, it was always hand in hand with the producers from one generation to the next, seeing significant development in viticulture as the wines gained recognition both in the country and globally. Thus, a celebratory salute to the consortium and its producers is in order and in 2023, (postponed for the reason of the Covid pandemic), they organized events for a full immersion of the territory, their wines and their success for people of the wine sector. 


For the 50th anniversary, the consortium has also created a new logo, a brand that becomes a representative symbol for the coming years, developed from the previous one but simplified to increase communication and recognizability. The sword is the symbol of Cividale – the broadsword of Patriarch Marquardo. The blade enters the glass and sinks into history. Each wine is history, finesse, elegance of gesture.

“As president of the consortium, my pride is enormous because I represent the territory where my father made history together with the many great producers who preceded us. The consortium has changed gears in recent years and we have a team that works splendidly, bringing great results and whom I want to thank deeply. The 50th anniversary of the consortium is for us a new beginning and a renewed charge of energy, creativity and desire to carry forward the name of the Colli Orientali del Friuli – a territory that deserves recognition of its enormous prestige,” Paolo Valle, President of Consorzio Tutela Vini Friuli Colli Orientali e Ramandolo.

Consorzio Tutela Vini Friuli Colli Orientali e Ramandolo

Among the first in Italy, the Consorzio Tutela Vini Friuli Colli Orientali e Ramandolo was founded on the 18th of April 1970. For fifty years, its development has evolved along with the continuing generations of producers, a generational transition from the farmers born in the first half of the century who considered their small productions as only one of the products that contributed to the overall income of the family business, to their offsprings who have successfully transformed their parents’ work into structured wineries equipped with modern technology and sophisticated technical knowledge, thus making use of their precious wine making heritage handed down to them. During this phase of development, the consortium has provided extensive training, provision of information, technical assistance and promotional activities alongside the institutional supervision and protection of the use of DOC status. Today, the consortium has about 200 members under its umbrella, 3/4 of which are bottlers. Their vineyards of 2,000 registered hectares produce more than 80,000 hectoliters of DOC wine, with at least 30% of the total are being exported primarily to the US, Japan, Austria and Germany.

The nerve center of the promotional initiative of the wines of the consortium is the Tasting Academy in Villa Nachini – Cabassi, in Corno di Rosazzo, a real scientific hub inaugurated in 2021. It is open to everyone who wants to have an in-depth knowledge and tasting of the of the DOC and DOCG wines. Behind the Tasting Academy is the illustrious Matteo Bellotto, an oenologist, promotions manager of the academy and also author of Storie di Vino Friuli (Stories of Friulian Wine).

Friuli Colli Orientali DOC

The Friuli Colli Orientali DOC extends over a territory that is characterized by a hilly and mountainous terrain, covering all or part of 19 municipalities in the central-eastern part of the province of Udine, near the border with Slovenia. There are the slopes of Mount Bernadia to the north which reaches as far as the Judrio river, giving it a hilly landscape with a harmonious balance of woods and vineyards. It also enjoys a bit of maritime influence from its proximity to Adriatic Sea. Within the Colli Orientali del Friuli area, three DOCG zones are recognized: Ramandolo, Picolit and Rosazzo.

The territory of Friuli Colli Orientali DOC wines is comprised of three macro-typologies of soil of different origin, namely: alluvial deposits which are native soils created by chemical changes due to fertilization in the upper part of mainly gravelly soils, transported and deposited by fluvio-glacial currents during the last Wurmian glacial period; debris deposits which are mainly the result of the processes of disintegration and alteration of marly-arenaceous flysch facies (alternating silty-clayey and sandy); and marly-arenaceous flysch of Eocene origin and characteristic of all the hilly areas of the designation, and consists of alternating marls (clays) and sandstone (sands). In the local area, this soil is known as ponca. Characteristically, in this territory, the hills are terraced because of the problem of the erosion of the marly soil.

The denomination covers about 2,000 hectares with a vinification of almost 9 million bottles, thus making it the second most important in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia after Friuli Grave DOC. The viticulture history of this territory has always been regarded for its remarkable expression in white wines. In fact, it dominates the total production particularly from Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Istriana, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Traminer Aromatico, Riesling Renano and Chardonnay grapes. The red wines of the Colli Orientali del Friuli come from international grapes such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir, while the autochthonous black grapes Schioppettino, Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, Tazzelenghe and Pignolo are gaining their position in the production. Furthermore, one of the most famous passito wines in Italy, Picolit, is produced here. 

The Colli Orientali del Friuli area gives white wines elegance with clear fruity and floral aromas with structure that allows good longevity of the wine. The red wines instead are characterized by aromas of spices, small red fruits and hints of undergrowth with lingering medium acidity that perks the palate.

Ramandolo DOCG

Ramandolo DOCG is a sweet wine made from 100% Verduzzo Friuliano grapes, also locally known as Verduzzo Giallo. Harvesting of the grapes is late, often leaving them to dry slightly on the vines or drying them in drying rooms as another option. On favorable years, they can also develop noble rot (botrytis cinerea) which infuses the wine with its unmistakable pecularities. Verduzzo is a one of the few white varieties that has a lot of tannins and because of the high presence of these polyphenols in its skins, balancing the right concentration between tannins, acidity and sweet sensations is very difficult and it requires the experience that Ramandolo winemakers possess and pass down from one generation to the next.

The wines of Ramandolo DOCG are produced about 33 hectares of land in a hilly terrain between 200 meters asl in the southern part of Nimis until over 500 meters asl at Tarcento. To the north, there is Mount Bernadia that shelters the vineyards from the cold winds. In this part, the diurnal temperature ranges and the high rainfall determine a particular micro-climate in growing the vines. Furthermore, the territory has terraced vineyards with slopes that reach over 30% inclination making a beautiful landscape of vineyard-garden terraces sandwiched between woods.

Previously a sub-zone of Friuli Colli Orientali DOC, it attained its DOCG status in 2001. Ramandolo is an interesting sweet wine with intense and characteristic aromas that can be consumed as dessert or meditation wine. It has a golden yellow color with a pleasantly sweet flavor, velvety texture, full-bodied, hints of wood on the palate for the barrel aging, can be tannic and a minimum alcohol strength of 14% volume. The aging potential for Ramandolo DOCG is 4-5 years.

Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit DOCG

The Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit DOCG is a wine zone of about 48 hectares and is located in Colli Orientali del Friuli which spreads throughout 19 municipalities in the central-eastern part of the province of Udine, close to the border with Slovenia. The territory is situated in a landscape of hills and plains extending from the northwest to the southeast direction which benefit from excellent exposure to the sun for the growth of the vines. Cialla instead is a sub-zone of the wine territory which is included in the production regulations. It covers a very limited area in the northern part of Prepotto and borders with Cividale del Friuli. The soils of Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit DOCG are comprised of alternating layers of marls (calcareous clays) and sandstone (calcified sands) called flysch or ponca in the local language. Most of the vineyards are cultivated between 100 and 400 meters asl on terraced hills, while the minority lie on flat parcels of land.

The Picolit grape variety is characterized by a very limited production due to a particular development of the grapes that undergo a partial floral abortion which entails the inability of the flowers to fructify. For this reason, the yield of the vines is always a loose bunch of small and sweet grapes which are much richer in sugars and aromatic substances. However, this low yield is an important factor for the quality of the grapes that are vinified. The DOCG status was attained in 2006 making it the second DOCG of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The denomination has an annual production of about 55,000 bottles.

Picolit is an ancient vine which had been in cultivation from the ancient Roman period. It went through a brink of extinction in the 16th century but it was recovered by Count Fabio Asquini who ironically, was a teetotaler but with the advise of a group of excellent winetasters, he managed to make this wine known and praised in the noble courts of Europe. With its attained popularity in that period, the vine was also cultivated in the 18th century in various parts of northern Italy, including Tuscany. It also reached the US in the 19th century as attested by documentations of exportations. However, a period of decline took place when Count Asquini died, which once again almost completely disappeared if not for the work of the Perusini family who owned the Rocca Bernarda estate in Ipplis in the Colli Orientali del Friuli in the 20th century. Since this intense and harmonious golden yellow sweet wine has always been considered one of the jewels of the region.

Rosazzo DOCG

The winemaking tradition in the area of Rosazzo DOCG has an important historical significance and synergism with the Abbey of Rosazzo, a religious, cultural, political and social center which has positively influenced the development of wine production since ancient times. Over the past thousand years, the Rosazzo territory and its wine production have been a benchmark for the entire winemaking sector of Friuli. It had been documented in the 14th century as a hilly agricultural area that confirms the land’s suitability for the cultivation of vineyards and orchards. The succession of religious orders in Rosazzo made a continuity of wine wine production as their constant economic livelihood that were served at the emperor’s table. This was later augmented by the Serenissima Republic of Venice, which settled in Rosazzo in 1420, which greatly contributed to making Friulian wines renowned, thanks to the many public, commercial and diplomatic relations it maintained and to the large consumption in the city, where banquets and celebrations were daily events.

The production area of Rosazzo DOCG, extending to 20 hectares of land, is located in the southern part of the Friuli Colli Orientali DOC area. It is located in the hilly area between the municipalities of Manzano and San Giovanni al Natisone, with a very small parcel of land spreading to the municipality of Corno di Rosazzo, all in the province of Udine. The soil that characterizes this area is composed of marl and sandstone of Eocene origin defined as flysch or called ponca in the local language. The area has excellent exposure to sunlight, maritime breezes coming from the Adriatic Sea, and wide diurnal temperature ranges which help the grapes ripen in a more balanced way, fostering sugar development and preservation of aromas and freshness.

Rosazzo DOCG received its status in 2011 and is obtained from a composition of Friulano (at least 50%), Sauvignon (from 20% to 30%;), Pinot Blanc and/or Chardonnay (from 20% to 30%;), Ribolla Gialla (up to 10%) and a minimal part (max 5%) of other white vines present in the area. The refinement method is a choice of the individual cellars from steel, wood or mixed vessels. Rosazzo wine is distinguished for its great personality and balance between acidity and softness. It has an intense straw yellow color, delicateness in the nose and harmonious, dry and silky on the palate. They also convey rich aromas of tropical fruits and balsamic notes.

Gala Dinner, Winery Tours and Wine Tastings

The 50th anniversary celebration of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Friuli Colli Orientali e Ramandolo kicked off with a four-hands gala dinner held at the thousand-year old Abbey of Rosazzo curated by chefs Matteo Metullio of Harry’s Piccolo Restaurant & Bistrò and Emanuele Scarello of Agli Amici, both restaurants with two Michelin stars in Friuli-Venezia Giula. Its isolated position on a hilltop in the hills of the Colli Orientali gives an amazing view of the area.

At the Tasting Academy, Matteo Belloto presented the mapping of more than 5,000 vineyards of the territory of the territory and the profiles of the lands that compose it. The highlight of the visit was tasting the old vintages of the white wines of the denominations to covey their great capacity of ageability. There were also visits to three wineries, the first of which was Scubla in Ipplis of Roberto Scubla. It was founded in 1991 by Roberto Scubla, with an annual production of about 60,000 bottles in 12 hectares of land. Present in Scubla were other wine producers of the territory, Ermacora, Cernetig Paolo, Nadalutti Franco and Tunella presenting their wines obtained from Malvasia, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Blanc.

Villa Romano, a noble residence from the 16th century located on top of one of the most beautiful hills of the town of Spessa, is nestled between the Friulian plain and the amphitheaters of the Colli Orientali at the edge of the Bosco Romagno. It has been owned by the Paolo Rodaro, 6th generation of the family and his wife Lara since 2002 where a small barrel cellar of their winery, Azienda Agricola Rodaro is located among the frescoed rooms by artist Giacomo Meneghini. At the villa, lunch with the other producers of the territory were present along with their wines.

Conte di Attimis is a winery in Buttrio that has been producing wine since 15 February 1585. Along with Fabio d’Attimis Maniago himself, there was also a number of other producers present like Marina Danieli, Petrucco and Buiatti, briefly presenting their wines and for tasting. In addition, an interesting experiment called “Taste Your Brain” was carried out in collaboration with the Rime Mute Association. While wearing a a helmet with electromagnetic sensors, the wine tasted is transmitted to a computer as an image like a painting, based on the sensations that the brain perceives. This is called Mezzocielo Wine.

An interesting visit was at a renowned producer of balsamic condiment. Not only does Friuli have a great wine culture, but it also has a surprising product of excellence amongst the wine cellars and vineyards. Acetaia Midolini was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest balsamic condiment cellar in the world. But aside from being the biggest, the Midolini family, now on its 3rd generation, continues to produce balsamic vinegar ​​of quality and tradition. The grapes used are from autochthonous grapes of the territory namely the Refosco and Friuliano which are cultivated in their own 100-hectare single estate land in Colli Orientali. After the must is cooked at high temperatures for up to 60 consecutive hours, it is then aged wooden vats of 7 different sizes made up 7 different kinds of wood for years, the oldest being 50 years old.

Domenis 1898 Distillery showed the art of distillation where the best raw materials produced by over 300 Friulian wineries are selected, throughout the harvest period, with a dedication and care that can only arise from love for a territory and profound knowledge of its fruits.

And finally, a toast at the Devil’s Bridge suspended on the Natisone River and shrouded in legend. It is one of the symbols of Cividale del Friuli, a historical and artistic heritage has been recognized by UNESCO. The two banks of the river were once joined by a wooden passage in the 13th century and was replaced by several inconclusive construction attempts by stone since 1442. The works were always thwarted by adversities of various kinds over the centuries.

Consorzio Tutela Vini Friuli Colli Orientali e Ramandolo

Address: Piazza XXVII Maggio 11, 33040 Corno di Rosazzo (UD), Italy
Tel: +39 0432 730129


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