Friday, May 1, 2020

The Lacryma Christi Wines of Vesuvio

Campania, a region in Southern Italy, has deep roots in ancient winemaking and viticultural practices influenced strongly by the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans.  Campania served as a center of the Magna Grecia, “Great Greece”, which were colonies of the Greeks in southern Italy.  They were very instrumental in the development of agriculture and viticulture for the fertile lands of the area.   

Aristotle wrote of vineyards being planted in Campania since 5 B.C.  One of the more important wines to note coming out of the Campania wine region are those known as Lacryma Christi.  The name translates to “tears of Christ”, which hold many legends with one of the most common being that God shed tears when Lucifer stole a piece of heaven.   

The wines of Lacryma Christi are a sub-designation under the Vesuvio DOC created in 1983, although these wines have been grown here for centuries.  The Vesuvio DOC is made up of over 100 producers with vineyards located on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius, an active volcano located right off the Bay of Naples.  As you’re probably aware, Mt. Vesuvius is famous for the eruption of 79 A.D. when it destroyed the towns of Pompeii and Ercolano.  According to the Vesurvio DOP Consorzio, "the area under vine is 391 hectares with over half (52%) of the vineyard area declared a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) for the production of the Vesurvio DOC and Lacryma Christi DOC wines".
Vesuvio DOC wine region in Campania
Copyright of Vesuvio DOP Consorzio
As you can image the vineyards located on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius are quite unique as the vines are rooted in deep layers of volcanic lava.  Lacryma Christi wines follow stricter regulations that those of the greater DOC.  There are many styles of Lacryma Christi wines including a Lacryma Christi Rosso, Bianco, Rosato, passitoliquoroso and spumante.  The most common are the Lacryma Christi Rosso and Bianco.   
Viewing Mt. Vesuvius from Pompeii
My visit to Pompeii in 2007 with a view of Mt. Vesuvius 
The primary grape of the Lacryma Christi Rosso is the piedirosso grape, translating to “red foot”, due to the stem becoming red during the ripening process.  This is an important native grape of Campania and lends ripe fruit and softness to the wines.  The rosso may also be blended with aglianico and sciascinoso. 

For the Lacryma Christi Bianco wines the grape coda di volpe leads the charge.  A grape exclusively found in Campania, coda di volpe translates to “white foxtail” that describes the shape of the grape cluster that develops.  This grape can also be blended with verdecafalanghina and greco. 

In recent decades the producers have advanced winemaking practices and increased the overall quality of wines being developed in this region.  Mastroberadino is one of the most famed producers of this region for producing high quality wines along with Feudi di San Gregorio and others. 

If you catch us in time we are chatting live on Twitter at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT.  Hope to see you there!  Check out the following posts from my fellow food and wine lovers.



  1. I have always loved the Lacryma Christi Wines of Vesuvio. Thanks for the reminder that I need to track down a bottle! Cheers.

  2. I am happy that you found the primary grape used for this wine. I enjoyed my bottle very much.

  3. Can't say I've had one of these wines outside of an official tasting situation. Thanks for the inspiration to seek them out. Cheers Jennifer!

  4. Jennifer -
    Loved seeing your photo of Vesuvius. I don't drink nearly as much of Lacryma Christi as I should. Fun to read your take on it and the history behind it. Susannah

  5. Nice choice of wine for our Campania month. Hard to believe Vesuvio is still active, just read a prediction that the next eruption could be between 300 and 500 years from now. We're safe!

  6. Good background on the wines of Lacryma Christi. I opened a Mastroberadino Bianco for this post and was delighted by its apricot aroma and creamy mouthfeel. Would love to try a Rosso next time.