Etna in view: vines in Biancavilla
Image: Gran Via
Sicily’s wine industry is experiencing an upswing, especially on Mount Etna. Can the island’s grape juice help it catch up with northern Italy?
When Maurizio Lunetta meets his fellow winemakers from other volcanic regions, he can often only smile wearily. “Their volcanoes often died out millions of years ago, but ours is still active.” More than fifty eruptions were counted on Mount Etna in Sicily last year; and also this year there were new eruptions with kilometers high dark clouds over the craters and lava flows several hundred meters long. “The precipitation is not always just fine ash, sometimes it comes down like hailstones and destroys the grapes,” reports Lunetta.
The Italian is director of the “Etna DOC” wine consortium, which wants to make the local grape juice popular around the world by complying with common cultivation regulations and through professional marketing. Because Etna not only poses dangers, the mineral-rich and fertile lava soils are the basis of a particularly expressive wine. Stones, earth, herbs and fruits can be tasted in the extract of the Nerello mascalese, Nerello cappuccio, Carricante and Catarratto grape varieties, some of which are cultivated at more than 1000 meters above sea level on the greyish soil.