The dominant varieties of the region are the red Montepulciano (grape) and the white Trebbiano d’Abruzzo grape which was once considered a clone of the “insipid” Trebbiano Toscano. Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is thought not to be a version of Trebbiano at all, but the southern Italian white grape Bombino bianco. Both Trebbiano Toscano and Bombino bianco are still widely planted in Abruzzo with field blends including all 3 varieties labeled as Trebbiano d’Abruzzo still common.
The Abruzzo region has the Apennines running along its western border and includes Corno Grande, the highest point on mainland Italy. The mountain range serves as a tempering influence on the climate, blocking many storms that come in from the west. However, this does leave the area prone to storm systems originating from the east, which are blocked in their westward progression by the mountains, causing high levels of precipitation to fall on the vineyards, as happened during several rain soaked vintages of the late 1990s.
To the east, the Adriatic Sea provides a moderating Mediterranean climate for the vineyards that run along a west-east orientation in calcareous clay river valleys that flow from the mountains to the seas. In the northern region of Abruzzo, along the Marche border, the microclimates, vineyard soils and altitude of many vineyards are similar to other central Italian wine regions in Tuscany, Umbria and Marche, while the warmer, flatter, more humid and fertile vineyard sites in the southern Chieti have microclimates more similar to southern Italian wine regions like Calabria and Apulia.