When we hear the expression "heritage varieties", we can't avoid thinking about Raboso Piave. Heritage varieties are intensely local to a particular area and have a long tradition of being grown there. Typically they have been rescued from near-extinction.
Raboso is from and grown mainly around the Piave Valley, Veneto, north east Italy. It was growing in the Piave Valley long before the arrival of the Romans during the 2nd century BC. It seems to be a direct descendant of the wine drunk by the Roman Legions. It is mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, 1st century AD, where he described it as "pucina omnium nigerrima" (darker than pitch/tar).
It survived the fall of the Western Roman Empire, resisting the fury of barbarian invasion. Winemaking in the Piave Valley went into decline until the region became part of The Most Serene Republic of Venice (The Serenissima). With its character, raging as the gales in high seas and enduring as beauty in fine art, it became the wine of the Venetian fleet. The Serenissima did not trade Raboso widely, but kept these wines for their own enjoyment and used them as gifts for special occasions and very special relationships.
Raboso survived two World Wars, the greatest vine epidemics that arrived from the New World, and all the different old wines trends of the 20th century. At the time of the Second World War, Raboso was the dominant variety around the Piave. After the War, winemakers turned to more marketable international varieties, such as Merlot and Cabernet, and Raboso cultivation steadily declined.
The Confraternita del Raboso Piave (Confraternity of Raboso Piave) was founded in 1996 by a small number of producers passionate about preserving their roots, such as the Peruzzetto family. The Confraternita aims to conserve and promote Raboso as widely as possible. Thanks to the efforts of these producers, in 2011 Raboso achieved the higest recognition under the Italian appellation system: DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita).