Negroamaro is an autochthonous wine grape variety of Southern Italy, which is becoming very important for the Italian wine market. The wine aroma is primary affected by the chemical composition of grapes, which can be influenced also by agronomic practices such as soil management. In this study, the free and bound aroma characterization was performed by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry analyses, and the influence of two soil managements (cover cropping and soil tillage) was evaluated. A total of 40 volatile compounds were observed in the wine samples. Alcohols (55.7 mg/L), fatty acids (7.0 mg/L) and esters (6.6 mg/L) were found as the main classes in Negroamaro wine. The results showed that the aroma composition of Negroamaro wine was positively affected by soil tillage probably because of the higher water stress (ψs) recorded in the vines from this treatment. Indeed, among the free volatile compounds, higher contents of esters, carboxylic acids, alcohols, phenolics and acetamides together with lower contents of sulfurs compounds were found in soil tillage wine. Conversely, no difference was observed in glycoside volatile compounds. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.