In the shadow of Mount Etna… grapes, vines and winemakers
The majestic Mount Etna (10,925ft) thrones on one of the most beautiful Italian islands, Sicily, where hundreds of unknown wineries loom at its foothills. Thanks to its rich volcanic soil and its altitude, the “island within an island” that is the Etna offers thrilling wines.
In fact, Etna wine growing entered into history in the 8th century B.C. with the Greek settlers, who introduced a form of growing vines known as the Aegean tree. Considered to be the best to be transported, the Romans started a flourishing trade abroad, which kept on increasing the size of the vineyards until the area reached its maximum extension in the 19th century before its steep decline in the early 20th century.
On the slopes of the highest active European volcano, the total vine growing area is over 3,000 hectares. Majority of the wineries are located between 1,640ft and 3,940ft above sea level and present the particularity of being terraced. The Etna wine DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) was the very first in Sicily and credits the quality in winemaking.
Does the adventure tempt you? Get our selected list of the “Top Etna Wineries to Visit” and travel through the mountains and perfumes of unique grapes.
Photo credit: Passopisciaro Facebook page
Passopisciaro is Andrea Franchetti’s paradise. Pioneer and visionary, he restored an old farm and cellar on the higher slopes of Mount Etna in 2010. Engaging a phase of renaissance, blending Chardonnay, Cesanese D’Affile, Petit Verdot and, the volcano unique grape, Nerello Mascalese all together to make a fine wine. Wine lovers can enjoy a visit of the cellar and the vineyard with a sip overlooking Mount Etna.
Photo credit: tascadalmerita.it
Tasca d’Almerita is 600 hectares, five estates and two resorts around Sicily. Located in a chestnut wood on the northern slopes of the volcano, the Tascante estate interprets the Nerello Mascalese to blend appealing and aromatic wines. A stroll around their terraced lands is definitely a must while on the Etna wine route.
Photo credit: Benanti Facebook page
Benanti is one of the leading family-run wineries. The story began in the late 19th century with Giuseppe Benanti who turned his father’s old farm into wine production at Viagrande. The following generations wanted to reproduce ancient fragrances using modern practices of vinification.
Such was the success; their wine has now gained an international reputation for its strong personality and a delicate “terroir” taste. Wine tasting in a charming tasting room, as well as lunch, can be arranged at the property.
Tenuta Terre Nere
Photo credit: Tenuta Terre Nere facebook page
Tenuta Terre Nere is the fruit of passion and work in the world of fine wine. Located on the northern slopes of Mount Etna, they called their elegant wines “the Burgundy of the Mediterranean”. Quality and finesse are the right words to describe their work. Wine and nature lovers can enjoy a visit to the highest red-grape winery in Europe.
At Biondi, wine lovers are invited on a journey through the terroir on the eastern slopes of the Etna. Biondi’s family has been making wine since the 17th century. Their Outis vintage is an invitation to travel into Sicilian history. Ciro and Stefanie Biondi run the winery and offer tastings in their old cellar in the town of Trecastagni.