Montefalco | Hill top town on the eastern side of the Colli Martani in Perugia province in Umbria in central Italy which gives its name to the Montefalco DOC. Montefalco is the symbolic and geographical heart of the Umbrian Valley, being visible from anywhere in the Umbrian Valley. Montefalco has splendid views of the Martani mountains, Mount Subasio, the Apennines, and the towns of Spoleto, Trevi, Foligno, Spello and Assisi. The city is surrounded by twelfth century, pink-coloured walls. These were designed so that all roads lead to the beautiful Municipal Square. The town has a watchtower at its main gate and buildings with domed roofs. Its strategic importance, overlooking the plains of the valleys of the Topino and Clitunno rivers, was coveted by emperors and popes alike. It also earned the nickname of “Ringhiera dell’Umbria” (loosely translated as Balcony of Umbria). This is because the town has a 360° panorama spanning the entire valley between Perugia and Spoleto from the slopes of the Lower Apennines to those of Monti Martani. Spello, Assisi – the birthplace of Saint Francis – Perugia, and Spoleto, home to the “feste di due mondi” (Festival of the Two Worlds) are all visible.
Viticulture in the Montefalco area has deep roots. Pliny the Elder described a grape called “Itriola” growing in the area around what is now Bevagnabut there is no proof this was Sagrantino grape. Another theory holds Sagrantino arrived via a disciple of Saint Francis of Assisi. Its name could derive from providing sacramental wine from grapes dried on straw mats, from the latin word “sacer” and “sacramentum”.
Montefalco is one of the few Italian cities where wine production was practiced even inside the city walls; visiting this city therefore allows you to discover truly unique sites related to wine production and to find traces of the fifteenth century agrarian structure, for example in the frescoes painted by Benozzo Gozzoli in the former Church of St. Francis, now the Civic Museum.
The Historical Archives of the City of Montefalco house numerous documents that attest to the care that the wine makers of antiquity gave to their “fields planted as vineyards” as far back as the fifteenth century local laws began to protect vineyards and wine.
One significant example is the law stating: “Whoever is found carrying unripened or ripened grapes and does not have their own vineyard, either rented or in usufruct, shall be punished as if he had entered someone’s vineyard and taken the grapes”.
Beginning in 1540, a city ordinance established the starting date of the grape harvest. The hilly area that produces Montefalco wine today includes the territory that gives it its name, along with parts of the municipalities of Bevagna, Castel Ritaldi, Giano dell’Umbria and Gualdo Cattaneo.
Industry bodies based here | Consorzio Tutela Vini Montefalco.
Sub-zones | Località Madonna della Stella.
Italian Wine Guide (Touring Club of Italy, 1999), p378.