Wines of Friuli

For centuries, winemakers in Friuli-Venezia Giulia have hung a frasca — a hanging branch, a simple twig, a flowery bough — outside their property to let wine lovers know there is a new vintage to share. In spring, it signals that the previous year’s white wines are ready; and in late fall, the reds. In Friuli the term has become synonymous with wineries and trattorias — and with the very notion of hospitality.

The typical frasca was originally a family farm or small estate where paying guests were served a taste of homemade prosciutto and (usually) a glass of Tocai Friulano, often at an outdoor table set under something beautifully flowering.

—Bobby Stuckey, Master Sommelier

The origins of the frasca are murky; some believe it emerged from an 18th-century tradition called osmize, from the Slovenian word for eight. It’s said that Emperor Josef II gave farmers eight days to sell their surplus wine and produce from their homes.

Today, frasche dot the hillsides of this northern Italian wine region, embodying this wholly Friulian style of open, down-to-earth hospitality. As gathering places for friends and family to dine and gossip while trying the latest vintages, there are no better places or ways to spend a lazy afternoon in Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

As each new frasca is hung, a new wine is on display—a new varietal plucked from the unique terroir and transported to the glass. In Friuli, a love of experimentation is embedded deeply in local wine culture, helping to create new dynamic wines that keep the small, mostly family-run industry evolving. It’s what keeps Friuli on the map as one of the most diverse, innovative wine regions in the world.

On any given day in Friuli, you might find producers who ferment their white wine in stainless-steel tanks, small oak barrels, clay amphorae (yes, just like in ancient Mesopotamia), cement tanks or large upright wood barrels.

—Bobby Stuckey

This type of innovative means winemakers in the same area, on the same hillside and block, may cultivate the same grapes, yet each winemaker expressing their own distinctive style and approach. It is a complex patchwork of varietals, vineyards, cultures and ideas — all equally delicious.