The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, which has been meeting in Doha, Qatar, gave its approval on Sunday for the vineyard landscape of the Piedmont (Piemonte) in northwest Italy to be added to the prestigious World Heritage List.
Becoming Italy’s 50th World Heritage Site, it has an official geographic designation of “Langhe-Roero and Monferrato” but its boundaries include the well-known wine areas of Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera d’Asti and Asti Spumante, some of the most famous wine appellations in Italy.
The listing includes six separate zones including the Grinzane Cavour castle and five areas with outstanding landscape and distinctive wine production: the Langhe hills of Barolo, the Barbaresco hills, Nizza Monferrato for its Barbera production, Canelli for its Asti Spumante sparkling wine and Monferrato for its “infernots” (distinctive underground wine cellars).
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The region has a history of winemaking going back to pre-Roman times. According to the Piedmont's application for the Unesco listing, the essential “Outstanding Universal Value” (OUV) proposed was represented by “the entrenched culture of wine and the extraordinary landscape shaped by human labor related to grape growing and wine production.”
The zone includes more than 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of land and 29 towns and villages, most of them involved in wine production. The listing is awarded as much for the history and culture of its wine production as for its rural landscape, architecture and historic buildings. The interaction of man and nature is also cited.
Being on UNESCO’s World Heritage List provides not only global recognition for a region’s culture but extra protection from developers, and gives a boost to tourism.
Other spectacularly beautiful and historic vineyard areas already included on the Heritage List include Wachau in Austria, Tokaj in Hungary, Lavaux in Switzerland and the Upper Douro Port region of Portugal. The wine regions of the Côte d’Or in Burgundy and Champagne are both nominated by France for listing in 2015.