It is no doubt Piedmont main wine varietal: grown mostly in the provinces of Asti and Alessandria, and widely also in the provinces of Cuneo and Turin, you can find it everywhere in Piedmont region. Outside Piedmont region, Barbera wine varietal is also present in the Oltrepò Pavese, on the hills near Piacenza, in the Franciacorta area, in Umbria, Campania, Sicilia and other Italian regions. It is also possible to find it widely in California and in South America, where it was introduced by the Italian emigrants.

It is also called “Barbera ciarìa”, “Barbera 'd Davi”, “Barbrassa” and “Barbera dou ciorniou”, that is to say local varieties (by now very rare) of Piedmont germoplasm that must not be mistaken for Barbera. “Barberùn” wines, that were shown to be present in several areas of Piedmont region with distinct characteristics, with respect to Barbera are mainly different wine varietals. Barbera riccia (“curly Barbera”) is likely to be considered a Barbera affected by viral symptoms (attributable to “Grapevine fanleaf”). White Piedmont Barbera has in common with Barbera wine varietal only the elongated shape of its berries. To conclude, Sardinian Barbera actually corresponds to the Carignan.

Morphological features

Shoot: the apex is very bloomy, white-greenish coloured with margins from pink to crimson. The upper small leaves (from 1 to 3), white-greenish coloured with golden reflexes and crimson margins, are cottony in the lowest part. The bottom small leaves (4-5), with outward-facing margins, are golden-yellow coloured with copper shades, very bloomy in the lowest part.

Adult leaf: average size, pentagonal, five-lobed; lyre-shaped petiolar sinus, closed or with slightly overlapped margins; upper lyre-shaped lateral sinuses, at times with overlapped margins; more or less deep lower U-shaped lateral sinuses. The leaf blade, smooth or slightly bowl-shaped, has a finely bullous surface (slightly gathered at the base of the main veins) and it is dark green coloured with green or with pink-coloured veins in the lowest part. Vine-shoot bottom leaves often crimson brightly and precociously, and this is not necessarily due to viral diseases or leafhopper stings. Irregular teeth, averagely prominent with a wide base and scarcely convex margins. Lower leaf surface with very bloomy leaf blade and highly setaceous veins.

Ripe bunch: average size and length, pyramidal and winged (with short wings) or cylindrical and winged, fairly compact; average length stalk, light green.

Grape berry: average/large size (2,5 g), ellipsoidal (d.e./d.l.= 0,87); the skin is averagely pruinose, blue-black coloured.


Budding: average-early (within the first half of April).

Flowering: average period (between the first and the second ten days of June).

Onset of ripening: average period (second ten days of August).

Grape ripening period: average-late (first ten days of October).

Growing approach and use

Vigour: average; the shoots, with average long internodes, tend to drop back and to show well developed and vigorous leaf tendrils.

Fertility and production: very high fertility, also at lower bud level; secondary shoots are usually productive; high and constant productivity.

Training and pruning: very plastic wine varietal, appropriate for different types of training and pruning; nevertheless, the high forms cause an increase in grape fixed acidity (considerable in this varietal), it is not proper for most growing environments; usually, pruning is mixed (Guyot), best with only one fruit cane of 10-12 buds, it nevertheless adapts very well also to short pruning.

Multiplication: excellent with most common root-stocks.

Trouble susceptibility and vine diseases: Barbera is slightly susceptible to grape downy mildew, but it fears above all mould and grape sour rot; in some environments it can show symptoms due to potassium deficiency (usually not serious symptoms) at leaf level.

Oenological attitude: also from an oenological point of view, Barbera wine varietal is characterized by high versatility: its grapes, provided with high fixed acidity, are used for a wide range of wines. It was also used for the production of sparkling wines (particularly white sparkling wines), more frequently (thanks to its good anthocyanin composition and the few tannins) for “new wines”, for red wines, for young and fizzy wines, for medium-bodied still wines and at last, with ripe grapes and more or less prolonged ageing in wood, for rich and generous red wines, often very elegant wines.