As the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily hosts a variety of landscapes, from rolling hills to picturesque beaches and surrounding, smaller islands. Its Mediterranean climate of plentiful sunshine and moderate rainfall make the island suitable for viticulture. The viticultural practices of Sicily date back to around 700 BCE, when the Greeks included the island in their expansion of Magna Graecia, or “Great Greece”. The settlers brought with them various winemaking techniques, as well as varietals of grapes which are still popular in the production of Sicilian wines today.
Though some practices are ancient, Sicily’s wine production is now in a process of transition. Until recently, traditional goblet-training was being exercised throughout the island, but this technique lacked the use of support systems for the vines. This resulted in low-yielding bushes which resembled the shape of goblets. Today, winemakers have adopted the higher-yielding methods of tendone (pergola) or guyot (cane-pruning) training systems. However, until the late 1980’s, these new methods backfired on winemakers, leading to an overproduction of lower quality wines and a subsequent loss of consumers. For this reason, most Sicilian wines are classified as IGT, or table wines, while only about 3% belong to DOCG or DOC appellations.
Even with the changes in wine production over time, Sicily is still considered an important contributor to Italian wines. Since the end of the twentieth century, Sicilian winemakers have adopted the practice of creating wines which are valued for quality, rather than quantity. With its perfect climate, landscape and mineral-rich volcanic soil, Sicily continues to master the production of delectable, unique wines of various grapes.
"Volcanic wines of Italy"
Vinomatica publishing 2017