As the name suggests, the Trentino–Alto Adige is comprised of two separate areas. Trento refers to the southern part of the region and its capital is Trentino (the ancient Roman Tridentum). The name Alto Adige identifies the northern territory of the region that includes the higher (alto) part of the Adige River.
Following the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the area underwent the same fate as many other parts of Italy. Subsequent waves of invaders occupied the region causing a centuries long period of economic and societal stagnation to settle in. It was in the Middle Ages that the current ethno-cultural mix composed of mostly Italian and Germanic people was formed. In fact, the region enjoys a special autonomous status and its inhabitants are bi-lingual.
After WWII, two important developments that changed the region dramatically took place. The first was the rapid industrialization in and around the Trento and Bolzano provinces, stimulated by the construction of hydroelectric plants, bringing with it long-term prosperity to the area. The second was the development of tourist resorts, especially in the beautiful Alpine zones of Alto Adige.
The variety of the landscape in South Tyrol is matched by the diverse grape
varieties. That is the result of the extraordinary interplay of climate and
soil conditions in the most varied of microzones. In fact, three important
grape varieties originated in South Tyrol: Schiava the typical South
Tyrolean red wine that is the most widespread; Gewurztraminer, which has
gone on to be at home throughout the entire world; and Lagrein, the South Tyrolean wine with international format.
One main distinction between Trentino and Alto Adige production is the fact that in the northern area the wines are produced mostly by small family-owned and managed wineries that sell their product locally with limited exports to Germany and Austria. Trentino on the other hand counts on a large number of growers who joined into large cooperatives.