Ciliegiolo is an ancient Italian variety, a parent of Sangiovese. Vigorous and moderately productive, it has pyramidal, compact clusters, with large round berries that smell of cherries, after which Ciliegiolo is named. Wine quality potential in the hot climate of the San Joaquin Valley was good, with adequate color and interesting flavors. In somewhat cooler climates it is even more highly regarded, with D’Agata (2014) considering it to be one of Italy’s greatest and most unappreciated grapes.
Origins and History
Ciliegiolo is an ancient Italy variety, first documented in 1600 near Florence, in Tuscany (Robinson et al., 2012). Ciliegiolo’s name is a reference to cherries, which its berries and wines are said to smell of. Ciliegiolo is a parent of Sangiovese.
Ciliegiolo is vigorous, with an upright habit, and benefits from an expansive training system (VCR, 2022). It is described as a reliable producer (D’Agata, 2014), but was not particularly productive in a San Joaquin Valley trial when trained to quadrilateral cordons and pruned to two-bud spurs (Tables 1, 2). Yields might be improved with longer pruning (VCR, 2022). It is not particularly susceptible to typical diseases.
Ciliegiolo is suited to a wide range of climates, but its shoots might not lignify adequately in cool climates in mechanized vineyards (VCR, 2022). It is vigorous and benefits from an expansive training system and long pruning (VCR, 2022).
Ciliegiolo wines are typically well colored, not particularly alcoholic or acidic, fruity, and best consumed young (VCR, 2022). Low acidity is considered it’s main fault, especially in warm climates (D’Agata, 2022). However acidity was relatively good in a trial in the San Joaquin Valley of California, a hot-climate region.
D’Agata, I. 2014. Native wine grapes of Italy. University of California Press, Berkeley.
Robinson, J., J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz. 2012. Wine Grapes. HarperCollins, New York
Cooperative Extension Specialist, Viticulture
University of California
Agriculture and Natural Resources