Sicily is home to Europe’s tallest active volcano – Mount Etna. And believe it or not, the volcanic soils actually make it one of the best places to have a winery in Sicily! You need to try the wines of Mount Etna during your stay because they do not disappoint. Here are my favourite Etna wineries to try for yourself.
About Etna Wineries
Etna is just a short drive from Catania, so if you’re flying into that airport, a day at the wineries is a must! It’s located in the eastern part of Sicily and is one of the most exciting wine regions in the world. It’s not often that you find wineries where a volcano is so I’d definitely recommend checking out the many wineries in the area.
What makes wine from Etna so special?
Well, the volcanic soils are a key factor that contributes to the distinct flavours that you’ll find with these wines. You see, the region is divided into different areas (or a different contrade) that all have a unique microclimate, soil type and altitude. The soils are diverse in that they are sandy, loamy and rocky, which is rich in minerals and creates the perfect breeding grounds for wine.
This plays a part in the flavour and aroma you get with each wine. Indigenous grapes of the region, such as Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio do best in these particular conditions, crafting wine with a strong personality in character.
Etna wines are also special in that they’ve been granted DOC status (Denominazione di Origine Controllata). This means that the quality and origin of these wines are guaranteed. Etna DOC wines have to be made from grapes that are grown within the region, adhering to strict protocols in order to maintain their status.
Etna is also within a unique geographic region. Its close proximity to the Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea makes it the perfect climate to produce grapes for wine. The breeze blowing off the sea helps with moderating temperatures and because the vineyards are at high elevations, it creates microclimates that in turn result in outstanding wines.
Wineries in Etna
When planning your winery visits, you have a few options. You can opt for some of the group wine tours, a private tour or simply plan out a few wineries to check out while you’re in the area!
These are the best Etna wineries that you can’t miss:
Barone di Villagrande Winery
This family business has passed on this land for the past 10 generations. It’s a winery full of history and with a story behind the cultivation of the land. Paolo Nicolosi built the new cellar in 1869 and began refining the process for red and white grapes. Up until this point, grapes were typically blended with no preference for separating them for a distinct colour or variety.
Barone di Villagrande has a wine resort if you want to enjoy some peace and quiet for a few days! With an infinity pool overlooking the vineyards, I can’t think of a better place for a getaway. If you can’t stay overnight, they offer wine tastings as well.
Tenuta delle Terre Nere
Tenuta delle Terre Nere has been producing wine since 2002 but the property has been around for over 40 years. It was established by Marco de Grazia, a winemaker and entrepreneur in the area. It’s one of the best wineries in Sicily and is located on the northern slopes of mount Etna. The altitude of the property varies from 600-1000 m above sea level.
For those looking for a full rundown of the vineyards, there are many options for wine tasting in their tasting room and tours. Their tours start at €50.00, lasting 1.5 hours and take you through the many selections of wines that they have.
The Gambino Winery is a family-run business that started back in 1987 when Mr. Vittorio Raciti bought the property and dedicated the land to grape growing. In the 80s and 90s, Mr. Vittorio Raciti and his wife Mr. Maria Gambino worked to cultivate the beautiful estate that exists today.
Calling all wine lovers on a budget! The tastings at Gabino Vini start at €28.00 for 4 glasses of their current vintage wines with a hard-boiled egg, olive oil and mineral water.
Tenuta di Fessina
Tenuta di Fessina is a beautiful winery that produces wines from indigenous grape varieties, such as Nerello Mascalese and Carricante. These grapes have adapted to the growing conditions in the region over many years and offer a unique taste. This winery also practices sustainable agriculture, meaning that they use natural methods to protect the vines and environment instead of using harmful pesticides.
They offer a range of experiences and tours to see all that the winery has to offer. I’d suggest exploring their food pairings that highlight the unique characteristic that each wine has. It includes 5 wines and 5 dishes for €90.00.
On a budget? Taste 3 of their DOC wines with local products for €40.00 instead!
Graci Winery is one of many Etna wineries located on the northern slope of the volcano. One thing that’s different about Graci is their hands-on approach to winemaking. They only partake in minimal intervention in the cellar so that the grapes are able to express themselves fully in the finished product.
They also offer different tasting options, however, it’s not mentioned on their website. I’d suggest contacting them for the pricing!
Benanti Winery may be the most extravagant of the Etna wineries. Its history dates back to the 1800s when the family first began cultivating grapes. It’s continued to evolve over the years and is now owned by Guiseppe Benanti. He is a winemaker himself and the fourth generation of the family. He maintains traditional winemaking techniques, holding the winery to the highest of standards.
The vineyards are between 700-1000 m above sea level, meaning they have optimal conditions for producing wine and the soil that is rich in minerals also helps to produce excellent wines. When it comes to experiences, Benanti Winery offers tailor-made experiences such as their Contrade Selection which includes a guided visit, and a tasting of 5 wines from 4 different Contrade. All wines are paired with local specialties, making it an experience to remember!
If you’re looking for the ultimate getaway, look no further than Cavanera Etnea! This boutique hotel has everything you could ever want. It’s located on the northern slopes of mount Etna and has a long history of winemaking between two families – the Ferrandes and the Di Giovannis. The partnership has allowed them to craft elegant wines from unique grape varieties such as Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante and Catarratto.
The resort is beautiful with insane views of Mount Etna, a pool, spa services and more! The rooms start at €168/night and the options for wine tastings, wine classes and guided tours are endless.
Monaci delle Terre Nere
Okay, I may have spoken too soon because Monaci delle Terre Nere has to be my favourite of these Etna wineries! This boutique winery takes a biodynamic approach to winemaking, as well as sustainability, seriously. They use renewable energy sources, and recycled materials and have a zero-waste policy which is a small step in the right direction.
Monaci delle Terre Nere has many different guided tours, one of which explores their wine cellar. They also have some of the most incredible options for accommodation. Their pool villas are out of this world and offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience. All of their rooms offer stunning views, some facing the volcano, giving you a chance to watch the lava flow down (from afar) if you happen to be there when it erupts.
It last erupted in late January into early February 2023.
Ready for Vino?
Whether you like white wines or red wines, the Etna wineries will have something for you! Etna has unique wine that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Make sure you try an Etna Bianco DOC or Etna Rosso DOC while you have a chance 👌🏼.
I’ll be back with another blog later this week but in the meantime, you can follow my life as a full-time traveller and digital nomad on Instagram and TikTok!
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