With an increasing number of Sicilian wine producers opening up their cantine and vineyards to wine-loving visitors, there are ample opportunities on the island to learn about winemaking and indulge in some serious wine-tasting. Guests staying in villas close to Etna, the Val di Noto and Palermo are spoilt for choice when it comes to wine-tasting experiences and there are also several options around Marsala and Menfi in the west.
The area around Palermo is an excellent location to try Sicilian wines. The Alessandro di Camporeale family winery, overlooking the Mandranova plain, arranges guided tours of its 35 hectares of vineyards and tastings of some of its top wines, such as Grillo Mandranova DOC Sicilia and Donnatà Nero d’Avola, accompanied by local food specialities or a 4-course lunch. Alternatively, in Palermo city centre, close to the Vucciria market, a dedicated cheese and wine experience features baked ricotta and the unique Vastedda del Belice goats cheese, served alongside wines such as Frappato, Nerello Mascalese and Nero d’Avola, and finishing up with traditional ricotta-filled cassatelle di San Vito lo Capo pastries accompanied by a glass of sweet Zibibbo wine.
Still in western Sicily, wine tastings at the Cantine Fina in Marsala include a tour of the cellars and barrel room followed by a wine-tasting of 5 wines on a veranda overlooking the Stagnone nature reserve and Egadi Islands.
Vines have been cultivated on the fertile slopes of Mount Etna since ancient times. Wine tastings are available at several of the top wineries, such as the family-run Azienda Vinicola Cottanera, with a choice of lunch or dinner with accompanying wines. For a slightly different experience, you can combine a 3-hour trek on Mount Etna (medium difficulty level), with a pause at Piano Provenzana and a visit to one of three local vineyards. This is a full day’s excursion.
Get closer to the action in September or October, when, armed with secateurs and a basket, you can spend several hours picking grapes at a winery on Mount Etna before tucking into a 4-course lunch, typically comprising caponata, fresh pasta and grilled sausage. The full-day excursion also includes visits to the palmento where the grapes are pressed and fermented, and to the cellar.
The Val di Noto in south east Sicily is one of the principal regions in Sicily for Nero d’Avola. Choose from several wineries in Scicli and Ragusa where innovative wine production now sits side by side with ancient farm buildings.
Wine tasting experiences include visits to the vineyards and cellar and range in price from €10-€85 per person, depending on the duration and experience.