The headquarters of the winery is located in the port city of Marsala in the province of Trapani on the west coast of Sicily. Its origins date back to 1851, when the Rallo family entered the wine growing business. The current winery was founded in 1983 by Giacomo and Gabriella Rallo, the fourth generation of the family to run the business. In the vineyards of the Contessa Entellina area the writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1896-1957) had some extracts of his famous novel "Il Gattopardo" (The Leopard) played. It then became famous by the filming of the material with the Hollywood star Burt Lancaster in the leading role. The name was given by Queen Maria Carolina of Habsburg-Lorraine (Donnafugata = fleeing woman), who fled Naples before the Napoleonic army. The winery's emblem is a woman's head with flowing long hair depicting the queen. This motif can also be found on the labels designed by Gabriella Rallo (see also under artist's label).
There are several wineries or cellars. The vineyards cover a total of 405 hectares. Of these, 283 hectares are located in the Contessa Entellina area, at an altitude of 300 to 600 metres above sea level, mostly in the municipalities of Contessa Entellina, Sambuca di Sicilia and Santa Margherita Belìce. The other areas are located on the island of Pantelleria (68 hectares), in the area of Vittoria (36 hectares) and in the area of Etna (18 hectares). The white wine varieties cultivated are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Petit Manseng, Müller-Thurgau, Ansonica(Inzolia), Lucido(Catarratto Bianco), Damaschino, Fiano, Carricante, Grillo, Grecanico Bianco(Garganega) and Zibibbo(Muscat d'Alexandrie), and the red wine varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Nero d'Avola, Perricone, Syrah, Tannat, Frappato and Nerello Mascalese. The Chardonnay grapes for the DOC white wine Sicilia "La Fuga" are harvested at night under spotlights in order to preserve the aroma through the cool temperature. This method is said to have been practiced by the Elimi people as early as the 4th century B.C. The Zibibo variety cultivated on Pantelleria is partly a vine with roots that are more than 100 years old.
In the Contessa Entellina area, an experimental vineyard of 19 different autochthonous varieties of different clones has been planted on half a hectare in collaboration with the Sicilian Region. These are grape varieties that are widespread in Sicily, such as Nero d'Avola, Catarratto Bianco and Ansonica, but also very rare and endangered ones such as Alzano, Nocera, Vitrarolo and others. In collaboration with farms in different areas of Sicily, the grape varieties are tested and, by means of micro-vinification, it is determined which varieties produce the best oenological results in which areas.
The environmentally friendly cultivation is carried out according to the rules of GAP (Good Agriculture Practice) and Integrated Pest Management, with no herbicides or chemical fertilizers, but green manure instead. A reduced use of pesticides is possible by monitoring climatic parameters (precipitation, temperature, humidity, etc.) and controlling the occurrence of insects (flour moth) through the use of pheromones. A quality-enhancing measure is yield reduction through thinning. An important contribution to sustainability is made by the production of clean energy from renewable sources with the photovoltaic systems, which enable a reduction of CO2 emissions. The Donnafugata farm is certified according to the requirements of the EMAS environmental management system developed by the EU.
The extensive product range includes over 20 different wines, including sparkling wines(Spumante). Depending on the type of wine, they are aged in stainless steel tanks, in concrete barrels or in wooden barrels(tonneau and ). These are the DOC wines Contessa Entellina, Etna, , Vittoria and Pantelleria, the DOCG wine Cerasuolo di Vittoria and IGT wines (country wines). The flagship of the house (cru wine) is the DOC white wine cuvée Sicilia "Vigna di Gabri" (Ansonica, Lucido, Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc). Other top products are the DOC white wine Sicilia "Anthìlia" (Lucido) - the most popular wine of the winery worldwide, the DOC white wine Contessa Entellina "Chiarandà" (Chardonnay), the DOC red wine Sicilia "Mille e una notte" (Thousand and One Nights), Nero d'Avola), the DOC red wine Etna "Fragore" (Nerello Mascalese), the DOCG red wine "Floramundi" (Nero d'Avola, Frappato) and the Passito DOC white wine Pantelleria "Ben Ryé" (Zibibo). Grappa and olive oil are also produced.
Contessa Entellina: F. Gambina
Card and label: Donnafugata
|2017||Vins extremes 2017 July||MOSCATO DI PANTELLERIA DOC “KABIR” 2016||Gold|
|2019||Mondial des vins extremes 2019||MOSCATO DI PANTELLERIA DOC KHABIR - 2018||Gold|