Piedmont is surrounded on three sides by the Alps, including Monviso, where the Po River irises, and Monte Rosa. It borders with France, Switzerland and the Italian regions of Lombardy, Liguria and Aosta Valley and for a very small fragment with Emilia Romagna. The valley and the mountains do contribute to the areas noted fog cover which aides in the ripening of the Nebbiolo grape (which gets its name from the Piedmontese word Nebbia meaning 'Fog'). Piedmont is the second largest of Italy's 20 regions, after Sicily.
Piedmont wine is the range of Italian wines made in the north-western corner of Italy. The best-known wines from the region include Barolo and Barbaresco. They are made from the Nebbiolo grape. Other popular grapes used for red wine production are Barbera and Dolcetto.
The sparkling wine Asti is made from the Moscato grape. The majority of the area's winemaking takes place in the provinces of Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria. The Brachetto is another variety used for making sweet and sparkling red wines. The wine making industry of the Piedmont played a significant role in the early stages of the Risorgimento (Italian unification) with some of the era's most prominent figures-like Camillo Benso, Conte di Cavour and Giuseppe Garibaldi owning vineyards in the Piedmont region and making significant contributions to the development of the Piedmontese wines.
The famous Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi was a winemaker who in the 1850's introduced the use of the Bordeaux mixture to control the spread of oidium that was starting to ravage the area's vineyards. Camillo Benso, Conte di Cavour was a wealthy vineyard owner who went abroad to study advance viticulture prior to founding the political newspaper II Risorgimento. He was highly influential in the adoption of many French viticultural techniques among the Piedmontese vineyards.
Although the winemaking regions of the Piedmont and Bordeaux are very close on latitude, only the summertime temperatures are similar; the Piedmont wine region has a colder, continental winter climate, and significantly lower rainfall due to the rain shadow effect of the Alps. Vineyards are typically planted on hillsides altitudes between 490-1150 ft. The warmer south facing slopes are mainly used for Nebbiolo or Barbera while the cooler sites are planted with Dolcetto and Moscato.