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Italy has a long tradition of producing wine and is currently rated the second largest wine producer after France. The country has been producing various and characteristic wine for at least four millennia, having a solid reputation for production of the best wines globally (Kramer, 2006). In itself, the historical success of Italian wines is a significant subject of interest. Most studies have placed emphasis on exploring the market share and market growth of Italian wine at the global perspective; this implies that there is an enormous gap in understanding the core factors contributing to the success of Italian wines at the global level. Recent studies report that the Italian wine industry commands a global market share of 25% characterized with ever-increasing exports and domestic consumption (Bastianich & Lynch, 2005). Italy has the highest level of wine consumption at the global level with 70 liters per capita consumption. There is a likelihood that the prominence of Italian wine industry is because most parts of the country are under grapes, with at least one million vineyards under cultivation. Other potential contributors to the prominence of Italian wine sector include its geographical characteristics. For example, Italy has an extensive latitudinal range that allows the growing of vineyards; the country is a peninsular with a long shoreline that leads to a moderate climate for the wine growing coastal regions (Mariani, 2011). The limitation with these theoretical explanations is that they do not take into consideration the critical human success factors that contribute to the success of the Italian wine sector. The purpose of this paper is to determine why Italian wines are known as the best in the world. The paper analyses various factors contributing to the success and prominence of Italian wine. Further, the thesis will also evaluate the factors leading to increased consumption of Italian wine at both domestic and international wine markets.

The ancient Greeks were the early people to grow vines in Italy; they followed the Phoenicians and later exported their well-known wines across the Ionian Sea for use in the Roman Empire in Italy and the rest of Europe at the time. The Ancient Greeks referred to Italy as “Oenotria”, meaning the “domain of wine” because of its wet hillsides and mistral winds that facilitated the growing of high quality grapes (Bastianich & Lynch, 2005). With time the Romans improved their wine growing methods and sold their wines across the entire empire. In the process of wine distribution they exported the culture of wine growing. The Romans, especially in Italy, concentrated their efforts in the production of wine. The collapse of the Roman Empire caused a collapse in wine production in Italy and Europe as well (Mariani, 2011).

In the course of the middle ages, Italian winemaking was mainly undertaken by the Catholic monks for usage in mass production; this led to an increase in the refinement and diversity of Italian wine. During the 18th and 19th centuries the Italian wine sector received a significant boost from the development of new wine making techniques. However, a destructive phylloxera epidemic wiped out many vineyards in Europe towards the end of the 19th century (Kramer, 2006).

 In the course of 20th century wine makers of Italy embarked on large-scale production of enormous volumes of wine. As a result, Italian wines attained a significant reputation for producing low quality wine at reduced prices. The Italian government responded to these perceptions by introducing the category of “Denominazione di Origine Controllate” (DOC) during the 1960s. This response strategy established various strict rules aimed at distinguishing finer wines from the average quality wines (Bastianich & Lynch, 2005). The 1980s saw the introduction of a new level termed “Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita” (DOCG). Presently, there are four classifications of Italian wines: DOCG, DOC, Vino da Tavola, and Indicazione Geografica Typica (Bastianich & Lynch, 2005). Currently, the Italian wine sector is struggling to make significant progresses in the global wine markets that are increasingly becoming competitive, especially with the introduction of new wine brands. The Italian wine sector has faced significant problems associated with over-production, leading to the distillation of at least 300 million hectoliters into either alcohol or ethanol. Other problems facing the Italian wine sector include small harvests and poor weather. Despite the problems facing Italian wines, it is the second largest wine producer after France (Kramer, 2006).

In terms of production, the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (USA) reported that Italy had 764,000 hectares under vineyards during 2005. In fact, the current land under vineyards has increased by approximately 50% since the 1980s. Northern Italy hosts 82% of the DOCG/DOC, especially in Venice, Tuscany and Piedmont (Bastianich & Lynch, 2005). Italy is an ideal country for growing vine. The northern Italy has a mountain climate with the south having a hot and dry climate; Italy also has a variety of soils and climate, which facilitates the growing of diverse varieties of grape, making Italy to have the widest variety of grapes in the world. There are more than 457 varieties of grapes in Italy, with red dominating over white (Kramer, 2006).

This thesis will attempt to explore the factors contributing to the prominence of Italian wine, and trends and factors contributing towards the increased consumption of Italian wine at both domestic and international wine markets.

The overall purpose of this thesis is to determine why Italian wines are known as the best in the world. Prior studies and available literature have only placed emphasis on geographical factors contributing to the success of the Italian wine sector, leaving a gap that poses the need to evaluate the human factors leading to the success and prominence of the Italian wine industry. Potential variables to be taken into account will entail the impact of price and quality on domestic and international consumption levels, and the effects of logistics and distribution of Italian wines on Italian wine consumption at international wine markets. The study will also evaluate the relationship between sales promotions and commercial wine brands with consumption levels. Further, this thesis will assess the impacts of large-scale production and distribution on the perceptions regarding the quality of Italian wines.

Why Italian wines are known as the best in the world?

This thesis report is of significant value to the government and various statutes implemented to ensure the competitiveness of Italian wines. The thesis provides a framework through which proactive strategies can be used to address the problems facing Italian wines to ensure that Italy remains the top producer of high quality wines in the world.

The study entails an evaluation of a research question basing on the gathered evidence and current literature regarding the topic. Data collection will mainly entail primary sources through the issuance of questionnaires to gather information from the respondents.

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