The Merino wool derives from the precious fleece produced by Merino sheep, the most widespread ovine in the world. The origin of this race is still uncertain, but it is assumed that it was already known as a precious gene mutation in the 12th century in the ancient Morocco, from which some specimen were moved to Spain. It is right in Spain that the race develops and entrenches its features, giving birth to an extremely warm and light wool. Subsequently, this wool becomes not only an exclusive of the nation, that jealously protect the farming of these animals, but also a pride for the rich clergy, which wants high quality clothing, suitable for every season.
Up to XVII century, Spain succeed in holding the exclusive for the Merino race farming. This exclusive property was even protected by laws envisaging the death penalty for anyone who dares stealing Merino sheep out of the country borders.
But, at the end of 18th century, the Iberian royal people destroyed their own monopoly, choosing numerous Merino clothing as presents for other European sovereigns and exporting Merino sheep also to South America, where the farming of this animal race has been rapidly developed. From this moment forward, the colonisation of Europe from this ovine species becomes impressive and rapid: Saxony, Austria, France, England, Russia and Italy are the first countries to raise this species and to use it for the autochthonous races’ improvement.
Then, the colonisation of much further countries has made it possible to try the Merino’s farming also in areas such as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Nowadays, right in Australia and New Zealand there is the majority of the Merino sheep population, thanks to the favourable climate and the wide grazing lands, ideal for the farming of this animal race. In these countries, public auctions are periodically organised, attracting people from all over the world, who come to purchase the precious wool.
Merino wool indeed, is considered the most precious sheep wool in the world, thanks especially to the thinness of its fibre that is less than 60 micron and makes Merino wool suitable for the manufacturing of sweaters and suits of high quality. These suits, colloquially defined “cool-wool” or “four season wool”, are particularly light and perfect not only to protect the cold of winter, but also to be worn in the warmer seasons.