Breweries, Wine, and Cheese Lifestyle

The Grapevine: Friulano

Aerial view of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy

A Wine with Personality

By Gina Trippi

Of wine regions, “Friuli, from my perspective, is one of the best in the world,” says John Kerr, co-owner of Metro Wines, “because the area combines mountains with the benefit of altitude, ocean breezes protecting the grapes from disease and providing salinity to the grapes as well as moderating the temperature, and gravel beds 150 feet deep built up over the millennia allowing for drainage.”

Friulano, the grape of Friuli, is a lean, dry, herbal white found in abundance in Friuli-Venezia Giulia in northeastern Italy near the border with Slovenia. By 1930, friulano—of ancient origins—had come into its own, promising lush aromas of pears and characteristic flavors including grapefruit, green pear, white peach, tarragon and crushed gravel.

Known by various names around the world, such as tocai friulano, sauvignonasse or sauvignon vert, Friulano is often mistaken for sauvignon blanc. While Friulano has no known connection with sauvignon blanc, there has even been confusion in vineyards, due to the similarity in berries and leaves. But fans of sauvignon blanc will detect the difference. Friulano is more fruity with less acid than sauvignon blanc, while wines made from sauvignon blanc bring the distinction of gooseberry and black currant aromas. The bottom line, though, is that if you enjoy sauvignon blanc, you will definitely enjoy friulano.

A good place to start your adventure is with Ferlat Friulano. Founded in 1950, Ferlat produces and collects its fruits in the renowned wine region of Friuli Isonzo. Two young winemakers, Federica Tabacchi and Moreno Ferlat, lead the company.

“The philosophy that guides the winery is to research and produce wines with a strong personality, recognizable and mature,” says Ferlat. To reach this result, Ferlat uses the most advanced wine-making techniques—but with absolute respect for nature and peasant tradition—to grow grapes that allow the winery to produce these very personal wines.

The 2019 Ferlat Friulano is 100 percent friulano grapes grown organically in chalk layered with white gravel. In the vineyard, Ferlat says the goal is minimal environmental impact in the cultivation of grapes for Ferlat wines. Certified organic, Ferlat does not use any herbicides, relying on copper and sulfur for the control of vine and grape diseases, and fertilizers of organic and animal origin in order to provide the highest quality and naturalness of the grapes.

Fermentation, accomplished in concrete tanks, is triggered by using indigenous yeasts naturally present on the grape skins. The result is a wine with no additives, no manipulation, just the real thing! But he is not trying to claim the trendy cachet of “natural,” Ferlat says. “That’s just the way we have always done it.”

Friulano is quite versatile, a great companion for prosciutto and cold cuts, and can be enjoyed solo as well. Interestingly, many say Friulano has the distinction of being the perfect partner for a dish that includes an earthy horseradish!

Gina Trippi is the co-owner of Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte Street in Asheville. Metro Wines offers big-shop selection with small-shop service. Gina can be reached at or 828.575.9525.

Leave a Comment