The winemaking potential of a territory such as the Tavoliere can be understood only by considering the interaction of four key factors: The grape variety, the soil, the climate and the people. This interaction is summed up in the French term "terroir". The vine is, of course, the Nero di Troia. The soil and climate are those of this rich Mediterranean land that has seen a succession of civilizations and peoples that have perpetuated the cultivation of the vine, leaving historical, architectural and gastronomic evidence of their existence. Then there are the people, who in this land are characterised by the figure of Frederick II, and whose work we call "culture".
The production area of the wines in the Tavoliere is located in the northern part of the region, land surrounded in the northwest by the sub-Apennine Dauno and in the north-east by the Gargano headland. Descending to the south the land becomes hills, typical of the Murgia and declining eastward towards the Adriatic Sea. A mountainous amphitheatre, which rises to the north, along with the sea to the south-east, guaranteeing a narrow temperature range, between seasons and between day and night, ideal for the formation of aromatic compound grapes. The climate is typically Mediterranean with mild winters and rainy autumns, producing a proper water supply for the vineyards. The warm, dry summer leads to the full ripening of the Nero di Troia grapes before the harvest in September. Soils are characterised by limestone, typical of the far east of the Doc, but there are areas which are more clayey or sandy. The soil boasts a good mix of combinations for the accumulation of water during the driest periods and a rich mineral component. The systems used to farm the vine tend to be the most modern and practical ones, from an agronomic point of view, such as Guyot or Cordon. However, there remain some plants which are cultivated with more traditional systems like the sapling, the pergola Puglia and the marquee. The vineyards used to produce the wines of the Doc Tavoliere (Tableland or simply Doc) are in the following areas: Lucera, Troia, Torremaggiore, San Severo, S. Paolo Civitate, Apricena, Foggia, Orsara di Puglia, Cattle, Ascoli Satriano, Ortanova, Ordona, Stornara, Stornarella, Cerignola, Manfredonia, Trinitapoli, San Ferdinando di Puglia and Barletta.
The pastoral and agricultural potential of this area have always been exploited, starting with the first evidence found in caves, dating back to about 3000BC, of Nomadic herdsmen, who were later met and accompanied by the first farmers of stable coastal areas, driven back into the interior by the arrival of new Illyrian and Greek populations. During this time the myth of Diomedes came about, the Greek hero who would introduce the Nero di Troia to the region. Amongst these new populations was the Illyrian Dauni, farmers who had been the prevalent population since VIII BC. The evidence of their presence is the Stele Daunian, depicting funerary sculptures carved and decorated by hand. Also the first urban settlements appeared at this time. The conquest of Apulia by the Romans, important both for the fertile plains and as a starting point for the conquest of the Mediterranean, was accomplished in 260 BC. The importance of the area during the imperial period is demonstrated by the Trajan passage that passes by Aecae, today know as Troy, to connect Rome to Brindisi. The fall of the Western Empire left the territory open to war through battles between the Byzantines, Goths, Lombards and Saracens. During the presence of the Daunia Byzantines it took the name of Capitanata (originally "Catapanata", i.e. land administered by a ‘Catapano’ official Byzantine which then became ‘Captain’). The Middle Ages saw then a period of political instability and numerous wars and raids, numerous fortifications and castles were built that still remain part of the architectural heritage of the Tavoliere and the Apulia regions. The advent of the Normans and then the Swabians decreed a rather quiet period and above all a great cultural flowering. The region was to be the link between the West and the East. Lucera, San Severo and Foggia become important centres of power and economy, closely tied to agriculture and pastoralism. Under the rule of Frederick II, we come to the story’s climax. He favoured these lands in particular, making Lucera and Foggia an imperial seat, the seat of his most trusted army composed of Saracens. The ‘Puer Apuliae’ emperor left his mark in all areas of cultural life of the region, still visible through the architecture of fortresses, castles and palaces that make up the unique landscape of the region. This period of unity and tranquillity was shaken by the advent of the Angevins who, while following the footsteps of the Swabians, met increasing confrontation between the various fiefdoms and the Saracen raids. The captains became more and more important from an economic standpoint, by building farms and estates, greatly increasing its agricultural production and grazing potential. Lucera and San Severo become the most important centres of the region, relying on the coastal cities to sell all of their produce. With the advent of the Aragonese and the coming of the Spanish flu came the decline of the area from an economic point of view. The Mediterranean lost importance as a venue for trade in favour of Atlantic routes, while in the South, Italy became a favoured centre, being closer to Spain and positioned on the Tyrrhenian coast.
Agriculture and pastoralism have always been the backbone of the region, since the time of the early Neolithic settlements. The Mediterranean climate has favoured the flourishing of cultures that resulted in the growth of states and empires. Vine, olive and wheat have always characterised the landscape of the Murgia and the Daunia, while shepherds crossed the region with livestock. An agricultural heritage that has been enriched with new ‘contamination’ from other countries and continents, an example to everyone is the tomato, imported from America, which found here one of the best areas for its cultivation. Agricultural wisdom and diverse cultural influences have joined the region’s raw materials, from the dominations which followed one another in terms of preparation and processing. What once was called ‘poor cuisine has now become the most popular cuisine in the world. The cultivation of the vine has always been associated with that of olives and the production of oil, and this region is no exception, which boasts the presence of numerous olive groves and mills. The existence of different native varieties, such as Coratina, the Oglialora Gargano, the Rotondella and Peranzana are just some of those present in the area and which are used in the production of two types of extra virgin olive oil: Dauno in the north and Terre di Bari further to the south. The production of Durum Wheat and Tomato in the province of Foggia are the top best-sellers nationally for quality and quantity. Sheep farming is part of the dairy sector which is involved in the production of milk cheese, provolone, burrata and stracciatelle. The region is also known for its fish, thanks to the presence of one of the largest fishing-ports in the region, Manfredonia. The vegetable-fruit sector is very rich, boasting an endless list of products which are carefully blended into the local cuisine. If, in previous years, the fluctuation of these agricultural and food productions had lost importance, it has come now to a turning point. A strong focus on biodiversity, a growing concern for quality of food and the health of the proven ‘Mediterranean diet’ have laid the foundation for the revival of a new agricultural heritage in Tavoliere.