Viticulture has been practiced on the island of Elba since the period of Etruscan domination. Archaeologists' discoveries of a large number of artifacts of the Roman period, many of which were used in the preservation or transportation of wine, indicate that wine represented an important commodity on the island in that period.
Pliny the Elder was justified, therefore, in describing Elba as insula vini ferax or an island fecund in wine. Afterward, in the Middle Ages, the island's wine was widely known and and appreciated and it was shipped to all parts of Tuscany. Once it reached Pisa, the wine was transshipped to all major towns in the region. Part of the reason for the demand was its reasonable price, which was close to those of Trebbiano and Valdarno, the most highly appreciated Tuscan white wines of the time.
In 1595, Ferdinando I de' Medici issued numerous regulations that were intended to protect vineyards from being damaged by cattle. Later, Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo of Lorraine regulated the sale of wine at Portoferraio, the island's capital. And, later still, Napoleon Bonaparte, following his return to Paris from enforced residence on the island, remarked that "the inhabitants of Elba are strong and healthy because the wine of their island gives them strength and good health."
In the 19th and 20th centuries, viticulture represented a major resource for the local economy. Pullé, in his Monografia Agraria, observed that, "among all the agricultural activities pursued on the island, the cultivation of vineyards is of the greatest importance...being practiced on a quarter of Elba's total surface and yielding alone much more than all the other contributing crops together."