Grappolo di Freisa. Fotografia di Massimiliano Sticca

Freisa, typical Piedmontese variety, has a history of almost 500 years. Its presence in the territories of today’s Monferrato and Turin Hills is definitely precedent but it was known with other names.
Thanks to the monks, who lived safely in their monasteries, the art of viticulture and winemaking survived the barbaric invasions and the fall of the Roman Empire. Wine has always been a main component in the celebration of the Holy Communion. For Freisa and the other grapes of the territory between the Po and the Monferrato, the saviors were the Augustinian monks of the Vezzolano Abbey ,who then spread the cultivation in the district.

The sweet hills of Monferrato, called the “Mountain of Turin” by Giovanni Battista Croce, have always been populated by vineyards, different vines and important wine productions.
The eclectic character originally from Milan, invited in the court of Savoy by Duke Charles Emmanuel I, much contributed to the diffusion of grapes and wines. The author in his writings does not refer specifically to Freisa, perhaps called with a local synonym used back then, but he cites other varieties like “Cario” and “Malvagie” (Cari and Malvasia), which he cultivated and studied in his estates in the San Martino and Salice valleys.

Between ‘600 and’ 700 the noble properties with a vineyard and cellars, suitable for winemaking to cover the needs of the family, proliferated. These vineyards, most likely cultivated with Freisa, are referred to in public documents as “vinee ultra padum”, meaning the vineyards beyond the Po. And “vineyards” also became the name of the properties know called “villas”. The best known is the Queen’s Vineyard of Madama Reale Cristina of France, which historical production was reactivated by the Balbiano Winery together with the Regional Directorate for Cultural Heritage and Landscape of Piedmont in 2003. The surface of the original historic vineyard was 1.4783 hectares, 0.7370 hectares is the current implant. The modern implant counts2.700 cuttings (of which 2,546 of three types of Freisa and the remaining divided between Barbera, Bonarda, Cari, Grisa Roussa, Neretto duro and Balaran).