What does “azienda agricola” mean anyway? Making sense of Italian labels

azienda, landed property, estate, domestic work, from the Spanish hacienda, from the Latin facienda meaning things to be done from facere, to do.

The term azienda means business and is used to denote a company or firm in Italian. An azienda agricola is a farming business; an azienda vinicola is a winery (awine business).

Pronunciation: ah-zee-EHN-dah ah-GREE-coh-lah; ah-zee-EHN-dah vee-NEE-coh-lah.

Here at the Boulder Wine Merchant, we love Italian wine.

But we also recognize that Italians often make it difficult to decipher their wine labels.

It's not that Italian winemakers don't want you to be able to understand what they write on their wine labels.

It's really due to the fact that Italians, as in nearly every expression of their wonderful culture and history, prefer the unique and idiosyncratic.

One of the most common terms that you'll find on an Italian wine label is azienda agricola (or azienda vinicola; see above).

It simply means farm (or farm where grapes are grown for wine).

And it's one of the most misunderstood and mispronounced terms.

Take for example the Sicilian winery Azienda Agricola COS, a favorite here at the Boulder Wine Merchant and a beloved producer among the wine cognoscenti here in our country (see the label above).

The name is an acronym of the winery's founding partners: Cilia, Occhipinti, and Strano.

It's pronounced KOHS.

Azienda Agricola COS can be translated simply as the COS Winery (or farm).

In workaday winespeak, no one bothers to utter azienda agricola. They just say "COS."