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It is not a casuality if Mount Etna is the home to great Sicilian wines. It is a volcano, in fact, and this matters. Especially when you cultivate vines. The lavic soil is rich of nutrients and the grapes take them all. This is the element – together with the special local climate – that gives high quality wines as a result. Of course, Etna Wineries are the magic box in which they keep these jewels, refining them before sending them to the market. Most wineries are on the north-eastern flank of the volcano and they are known worldwide. Unfortunately not all of them are run by locals. Many wine managers today are from northern Italy, or from abroad (Belgium, Japan, Germany). They replace the Sicilian families that once used to link their name to the territory.

The secrets of Etna wines

Etna Wines derive from a land cultivated with local vines. The absolute prince is Nerello Mascalese, a type of indigenous grape. When mixed with Nerello Cappuccio it creates very special red wines with the full flavour of the volcano. Even the white wines are refined, based on the Carricante grape variety which is typical of southern Sicily but has adapted well to this altitude.

From the lava soil these vines absorb the minerals of the volcanic land and the scents of the other plants all around. Citrus flowers, gorse, apples, oranges and lemons are intensely present in the taste of the basic grapes. For this reason the wines of Etna have a “very vinous” (red) or “fruity” (white) flavour. Experiencing Etna wines and wineries also means making excellent and healthy tourism.

The best wineries of Etna

etna wineries 2Among the best wineries of Etna we remember those of Zafferana, Milo, Solicchiata and Linguaglossa. Monaci delle Terre Nere, in the woods of Zafferana Etnea, is the producer of the excellent U Ranaci and is also a splendid agritourism estate. Going a little further up, in Milo, here is the great Barone di Villagrande estate: here Etna Bianco Superiore wines rule. So does the unique panorama of the vineyards clinging to the volcano!

Moving from east to north, you must  stop in Solicchiata. Here the Patria, Pietradolce and the famous Russo Vini wineries will welcome you. From the latter, in the mid-twentieth century, the first bottles of the excellent Solicchiata came. A name that is now a worldwide known brand.

And again, in Castiglione di Sicilia, you will discover the Caverna Etnea Firriato winery, home to the homonymous wines. Among them the highlight is Gaudensius. To taste the Muscamento Etna Rosso, instead, we recommend that you live the experience at the Villa Neri winery in Linguaglossa. And at the Shalai resort, also in Linguaglossa, do not miss the Cirneco Rosso wine.

Besides the wineries

In addition to the wineries, vineyards, millstones and tastings in the countryside, do not forget that you are surrounded by delightful towns and the majestic Mount Etna. Definitely worth visiting the centre of Linguaglossa, famous for its ancient churches and the peasant-themed mural frescoes that embellish its old houses.

In Castiglione di Sicilia you will admire medieval churches, what remains of the ancient castle and the precious Byzantine Cuba church, in the valley below. Not far from here are the Alcantara Gorges. A visit to villages such as Motta Camastra, Mojo Alcantara, Malvagna is a must! From Linguaglossa take the road that reaches the splendid Ragabo pine forest and the ski resort of Piano Provenzana. (photos by Grazia Musumeci).

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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