VERNACCIA DI ORISTANO DOC is a single varietal white wine made from the Vernaccia di Oristano grape grown in the Tirso river basin in the western part of Italian island of Sardinia (Sardegna). Vernaccia di Oristano is not related to the other grape varieties known as Vernaccia. The wine produced is arguably the most typical and distinct of the island. It was known on the mainland as well as in Greece in the 16th century. ‘Though legends surround its origins, the vine is probably indigenous to the Tirso valley, where it makes the most typical of Sardinian wines, Vernaccia di Oristano. Another theory is that it was planted by the ancient Romans, but it is clearly not related to any other vine called Vernaccia,’ says Burton Anderson (1990, p288). The soils in the Tirso basin are on alluvial sand and gravel rich in lime, and the climate is often hot and dry,’ (Burton Anderson (1990, p290).

Vernaccia di Oristano has been recorded here since the 16th-century at least, when it was drunk in both Italy and Greece. The vines grow in the Tirso river basin and flatlands around the Stagno di Cabras lagoon north of Oristano and including 14 other townships (‘comuni’) in Oristano province. The vines are low-trained to the ground to soak up heat reflected from the sandy limestone soil. This produces a wine with a high level of alcohol.

PRODUCTION ZONEThe zone includes the communes of Baratili San Pietro, Cabras, Milis, Narbolia, Nurachi, Ollastra, Oristano, Riola Sardo, San Vero Milis, Siamaggiore, Simaxis, Simaxis, Solarussa, Tramatza, Zeddiani and Zerfaliu in the province of Oristano.

VITICULTURE / Training The vines are trained on the soil, allowing them to soak up the heat reflected from the sandy limestone-rich soil. / Yields 8,000 kg/ha (Andreas März).

WINE PRODUCTION2006 78 hectares produced 123,600 hl. / 2007 56 hectares produced 12,600 hl. / 2008 42 hectares produced 71,600 hl. / 2009 16 hectares produced 25,300 hl. (Source 2006-2009 data: Andreas März). /

WINEMAKING / The wine has an alcohol content of 15% vol. It is matured in small barrels in brick buildings called ‘magazzini’ which gave openings to let in air and sunlight. The barrels are left only partially filled to allow a veil of yeast or ‘flor’ to form as occurs for certain wines of the Sherry region in Spain, hence Vernaccia di Oristano has a sherry-like character (Burton Anderson, 1990, p292-3). If it is matured for three years and has a minimum alcohol content of 15,5% vol it may be called Superiore. There is also a Liquoroso Secco (also known as Liquoroso Dry) and a Liquoroso Dolce version.

WINE STYLES / ‘Vernaccia di Oristano can be a good approximation of a dry sherry with a clean and bitter finish,’ (Oxford Companion 2006 p610).


Atzori. / Cantia Sociale Vernaccia (coop). / Contini. / Josto Puddu. / Serra. /Silvio Carta.






Andreas März, ‘Weininsel Sardinien, Auf den Spuren des Bosa’, Merum3:11 (Juni/Juli 2011) p6.

Burton Anderson, The Wine Atlas of Italy (Mitchell Beazley, London, 1990).

David Gleave, The Wines of Italy (Salamander Books, London, 1989).

Dr Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014).

Nicolas Belfrage MW, Life Beyond Lambrusco (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1985)

Nicolas Belfrage MW, From Barolo to Valpolicella—The Wines of Northern Italy (Faber & Faber, 1999).

Nicolas Belfrage MW, From Brunello to Zibibbo–The Wines of Tuscany, Central and Southern Italy (2nd edition, London, 2003).

The Oxford Companion to Wine 3rd edition ed. Jancis Robinson MW (Oxford University Press, 2006).

The Oxford Companion to Wine 4th edition ed. Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW (Oxford University Press, 2015).