The Mt. Etna volcano in Sicily is famous for steaming volcanic chasms, snowy peaks, and wild jeep expeditions, but the volcano’s most recent claim to fame is its wineries and wine tastings. Just a short drive from the famous seaside resort town of Taormina as well as the bustling coastal city of Catania, Mt. Etna’s wineries are easy to access, and this guide provides all of the information needed to go wine tasting on Mt. Etna. It’s important to note that not all Mt. Etna wineries offer wine tastings. My guide lists the wineries that offer wine tastings as well as how much they charge.
Sicily is famous for producing wine with the Nero D’Avola grape, but many of the wineries on Mt. Etna focus on other grapes, such as the native grapes nerello mascalese and nerello cappuccio and the international grapes cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah. Thanks to innovative winemakers like Frank Cornelissen, aka the Madman of Mt. Etna, many of whom practice biodynamic winemaking, Mt. Etna wines are appearing in restaurants and wine shops throughout the U.S. But there’s nothing like drinking a wine in the region where it is produced.
Imagine the beginning of a hot day in Taormina, Sicily—a town perched high on coastal cliffs that looks down on a picture-perfect island. This incredible Sicilian town has been adored by Ancient Greek authors as well as Truman Capote and D. H. Lawrence, and there is an ancient Greek theater carved into one of the massive rock formations near the sea. Mt. Etna steams to the west, and even in this heat you can see snow on its peak. A glass of Sicilian wine takes on new flavors and meanings in this environment.
Taormina is a very popular destination, and it can feel quite crowded on summer days. The nearby wine-making towns, such as Motta Camastra and Linguaglossa, are almost unknown, yet it takes just 40 minutes to drive to them. In order to plan a wine tasting day trip, all you have to do is pick a few wineries, make appointments by email or phone a few days before your arrival, and rent a car. The drive is beautiful, ascending the foothills of Mt. Etna and providing excellent views of the sea and the volcano. The Sicilian countryside zooms past, comprised of stonewall terraces, citrus trees, and prickly pear cacti.
To taste wine on the southern slopes of Mt. Etna, you can use the port city of Catania as a base. Catania is famous for its exceptional seafood and nightlife. Many Mt. Etna wineries are just 30 minutes away from Catania. Most are near the towns of Viagrande and Trecastagni, though another 20-minute drive will take you to Santa Venerina for another round of wine tasting options.
In Sicily, the majority of wineries require an appointment to taste wine, so make sure to send an email or call several days in advance. If you are interested in wine tasting for several days, consider spending the night at one of the wineries that provide accommodations. Here is a list of Mt. Etna wineries that offer wine tastings. Prices are listed when known.
Northern Mt. Etna Wineries (near Taormina)
Gambino: Wine Tasting cost – 10 euros; an appointment is appreciated.
Passopisciaro: (wines by Andrea Franchetti): Wine Tasting cost – 20 euros for 3 wines; 25 euros with salami and cheese; 45 euros with lunch; an appointment is recommended.
Cornelissen: The cost of the wine tasting is determined by the cost of the bottles opened; an appointment is necessary.
Cottanera: Wine tastings are offered Monday – Saturday; an appointment is necessary.
Antichi Vinai : Tastings are available; an appointment is necessary.
Scilio: Tastings are available; an appointment is necessary; overnight accommodations are available.
Central Mt. Etna Wineries
Murgo Winery: Wine Tasting cost 8 euros; an appointment is necessary; overnight accommodations available.
Barone di Villagrande : Wine tasting offered; an appointment is necessary.
Enoteca Etna Wine : This wine shop in Riposto offers wine tastings without an appointment.
Southern Mt. Etna Wineries (near Catania)
Benanti : Several wine-tasting options are available, including vineyard tours in English. The basic wine tasting costs around 50 euros; an appointment is necessary.
Biondi : Wine Tasting is free; an appointment is necessary.
Written by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com