Sicilian wine has a long and fascinating history involving ancient trades, cooperation among different people, courage and pleasure.
Ancient archaeological finds prove that Sicily was one of the first Italian regions to develop the art of winemaking.
In the recent past up until the 1950s, Sicily’s wine production was mostly used to give body to more sophisticated wines from France and northern Italy. This increased their alcohol level and helped balance the colour of more famous wines.
Nowadays, more and more producers are striving to innovate, transform and improve the quality of their vineyards and upgrading their facilities. The sun, the unique soil, the hills and the sea breeze have all helped to create an extraordinary variety of Sicilian wines that play a leading role on the international scene.
The island’s many wineries offer fine hospitality to visitors and tourists with wine tastings in their cellars. They give the public the opportunity to enjoy the fabulous Sicilian DOC and DOCG wines. The wineries produce fine reds, whites, rosés, liqueurs and sparkling wines made from local grape varieties including Zibibbo, the oldest, which was brought to Pantelleria by the Phoenicians. Other popular grape varieties cultivated on Sicily include the famous Nero d’Avola, the Nerello Mascalese, the Nerello Cappuccio, the Carricante, the Catarratto, the Grillo, the Frappato, the Perricone and the Inzolia.
80% of Sicilian vineyards are concentrated in the provinces of Agrigento, Palermo and Trapani. The latter producing over 50% of the entire regions output. The DOCG (Controlled and Guaranteed Origin Designation) is the Cerasuolo di Vittoria, produced in the Ragusa area, with the Nero D’Avola and Frappato grape varieties. Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s pride and joy. Originally from the south-east, between Ragusa and Syracuse, the vine is now cultivated everywhere, facing off competition from international varieties to become the Sicilian oenological symbol.
In the areas of Trapani and Palermo there are three DOC wines; Alcamo, Marsala and Contessa Entellina. Marsala is one of the most famous fortified wines and was the first DOC wine in Italian history, it is produced throughout the province of Trapani. Pantelleria, Alcamo and Favignana produce their own local wines.
Favinia le Sciabiche is an historic wine, from the island of Favignana. It has been brought back to the table after more than a century thanks to the Sicilian winemakers who are proud of their land kissed by the sun, sea and the winds.
The Sicilia DOC, created in 2011, is one of the most important DOCs in the entire region.
In the areas between the DOC Santa Margherita di Belice, Sambuca di Sicilia and Menfi, there are wineries that produce interesting wines using both local and international varieties, like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
The area around Butera, Riesi and Mazzarino, in the province of Caltanissetta, is home to the Riesi DOC, which produces white, red and rosé wines as well as sparkling and late harvest wines.
The wines from Etna’s vineyards are highly sought-after. The climatic conditions created by the volcano and the winds from the Ionian Sea give them personality and vibrancy. One of the island’s best-known gourmet trails is right in the Catania area and goes from Fiumefreddo to Randazzo via Piedimonte Etneo, where the Vine Museum is located, to Castiglione di Sicilia.
The Etna D.O.P. vineyards produce outstanding wines that express the uniqueness of an area through which lava flows. The principal wines of this fantastic wine tourism region are red, rosé and sparkling. The red and rosé wines are produced from Nerello Mascalese and Cappuccio grapes. The white wines are made from Carricante and Catarratto, Inzolia and Grecanico grapes.
Three DOC wines come from the Messina area: Faro, Mamertino and the very famous Malvasia delle Lipari. Lipari, the largest island of the Aeolian archipelago, gave its name to this golden yellow wine with a delightfully aromatic scent.
The wines produced in the Val di Noto region are also delightful. Here, and throughout the province of Syracuse, you can enjoy Moscato di Noto, a white Muscat, and Nero d’Avola, a very well-known red wine.
With Passiti, Moscati and Malvasie, Nerello Mascalese, Zibibbo and Inzolia, Sicilian wines appeal to the most refined and discerning tastes.
If you want to experience new and unusual flavours, you will be interested to know the story of the legendary relic vines.
In 2003, a team of oenologists, farmers, producers and agronomists set out in search of the ancient native Mediterranean vines that were thought to be lost forever. Asking for information, exploring the lands of proud winemakers and elderly people, the researchers identified 15 grapes that had survived over time and created an experimental site to bring forgotten ancient wines back to life.
Today, there is a growing interest in these archaeological, prized and evocative varieties, which will boost Sicilian wine tourism.
Take the tourist itineraries that follow the wine roads to enjoy fine wine paired with the traditional flavours of Sicilian gastronomy. There are wine tasting routes that run throughout the whole island. Find more details here: Sicily, unmissable flavours
Find out more about wine in Sicily with Assovini and wine tourism in Sicily with Movimento Turismo del Vino and Winery Tasting Sicily.