Wine production in Italy and along the Mediterranean basin was already carried out in the Iron Age (3rd millennium BC), but the most detailed and numerous testimonials that we cherish date back to the 13th century BC.
Even the Bible praises wine in one of its psalms (C. III): “vinum laetificat cor hominis” (wine gladdens the heart of man).
Pliny the Elder who lived until August 79 AD when he became victim of the famous eruption of Vesuvius, told that Livia, Ottaviano Augusto’s wife, loved a red wine (unanimously recognized as Refosco, at that time known as Pucino) so much that she only drank that: this enabled her to reach the age of 86 years, for that time exceptional.
The historian Antonio Zanon mentions Aquileia’s fertile partner, “Lavishing in good wine, first of all in Refosco”. In this regard, the priest Giovan Battista Bragolini, who had met him a long time back when he was suffering so much that he thought that he was dying, wrote that he found him in good shape, according to the priest, thanks to the “high quality of those wines”.
This wine was so precious that in 1390, exactly on the 14th of August, the Chamberlain of Udine, by order of the deputies, donated to the Ambassadors of Emperor Albert III of Habsburg, (in the person of the Count of Lozo and one of his companions) amongst the other gifts, “20 ingestariis of Refosco wine, for which – as Di Manzano explains in his Annali of Friuli – “ he spent 35 coins”.
Other than for its tastiness, this wine stood out also for the price and for the care in its production; in fact, according to the abovementioned Annali, the agenda of the Council of Deputies on the 14th of October 1575 included the “price of Refosco”. Later, the same Council, considering the major prestige of Refosco wine, took measures so that in 1702 the price was fixed at six coins each jug, two coins more than ordinary wine, which at that time costed 4. According to Pirona “Refosco is one of the most ancient and high-quality grapes of the Region”.
Giacomo Casanova tells us about how Refosco was an important bargaining tool used by the Serenissima merchants and he mentioned it in his famous book “Histoire de ma vie”, quoting “the good woman that served a tasty lunch including fishes seasoned with oil gave us Refosco to drink, which I found delicious”.