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Description to Sicily

The region with the capital Palermo is the largest in Italy with a land area of 25,703 km² and also the largest island in the Mediterranean. It also includes the island of Pantelleria to the southwest and the Lipari Islands to the northeast. The Greeks founded several colonies on Sicily from the 8th century BC. They named it Trinacria after its triangular shape. Later they gave it its definitive name after the Siculi mountain people. They brought with them their viticultural techniques and vines, including the ancient Eugenia and Murgentina varieties. These were later brought to central Italy and planted. Murgentina, as the "Pompeian grape", thrived particularly well on the volcanic soil on the slopes of Vesuvius in Pompeii and in the ancient Etruscan city of Clusium (Chiusi in Tuscany). The cities of Syracuse and Taormina (on Etna) developed into flourishing wine trading centres. There is documentary evidence of vineyards from the settlement of Akragas (Agrigento) from the 5th century BC. Sicily played an important role in the development of Italian viticulture.

Sizilien - Weinberge in Menfi und Landschaft

In the course of the Second Punic War, the island became a Roman province in 212 BC after centuries of warfare and was used primarily as a granary. Among the ancient wines mentioned by Pliny the Elder (23-79), two appear from Sicily. The first is a Mamertinum from Messina, said to have been prized by Julius Caesar (100-44 BC). The second is a Haluntium from Syracuse, whose successor may be Moscato di Siracusa. From the 7th to the 9th century, Sicily came under Ottoman rule. They tolerated viticulture, but it was mainly sultanas that were produced. The Ottomans brought with them the art of distilling, which was adopted by the Catholic orders. In the Middle Ages, grain was the most important agricultural product. From the 14th century onwards, vineyards expanded and Sicilian wines were exported to Upper Italy and Constantinople.

Cultivation areas

The vineyards cover around 119,000 hectares of vines, making Sicily by far the largest Italian wine-growing region (more than Germany or almost three times Austria). They are located at altitudes of up to 900 metres above sea level, mainly in the west and southeast. The Mediterranean climate is characterised by very hot, dry summers with little rainfall. African conditions prevail especially in the south of the island. However, the slopes with intense sunlight and large temperature fluctuations between day and night provide very good conditions for viticulture. It was not until 2005 that the red wine Cerasuolo di Vittoria was classified as DOCG for the first time on the island. The IGT (country wines) and DOC and DOCG (quality wines) areas are:

Grape varieties

Despite the hot climate, white wine varieties predominate by far in terms of area, the most important being Ansonica (Inzolia), Carricante, Catarratto Bianco with the varieties Catarratto Bianco Comune and Catarratto Bianco Lucido, Chardonnay, Fiano, Grecanico Bianco/Lucido (Garganega), Grillo, Malvasia di Lipari, Minella Bianca, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc), Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris), Sauvignon (Sauvignon Blanc), Trebbiano Toscano, Viognier and Zibibbo od. Moscato di Alessandria (Muscat d'Alexandrie). The most important red wine varieties are Alicante (Garnacha Tinta), Cabernet Sauvignon, Calabrese (Nero d'Avola), Carignano (Mazuelo), Frappato, Merlot, Gaglioppo, Mondeuse (Mondeuse Noire), Nerello Cappuccio od. Nerello Mantellato, Nerello Mascalese, Nocera, Pignatello (Perricone), Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir), Sangiovese or Corinto Nero and Syrah.

The production of table grapes occupies a leading position. Sweet wines were already a speciality of the island in ancient times, and this has not changed to this day. Towards the end of the 18th century, the Englishman John Woodhouse invented the dessert wine Marsala here, through which the island mainly became known as a wine supplier. The vast majority of wine production is used for distillation or for mass-produced wines of simple character.


Among the best known producers on the island are Abazzia Santa Anastasia, Adragna, Ajello, Alagna, Alcesti, Benanti, Calatrasi, Ceuso, COS, Cusumano, Marco de Bartoli, Cusumano, Donnafugata, Duca di Salaparuta, Fatascià, Feuda Principi di Butera, Firriato, Florio, Geraci, Judeka, Marchiopolo, Morgante, Maurigi, Salvatore Murana, Nanfro, Occhipinti, Palari, Pellegrino, Planeta, Principi di Spadafora, Rapitalà, Settesoli, Tasca d'Almerita and Valle Dell'Acate.

Picture left: by Fabio Ingrosso - Flickr: Cantine Settesoli, CC BY 2.0, link.
Picture right: by Peter H on Pixabay

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