Das Sagt Man Über Uns Uns

Wine Enthusiast Magazine

11 Januar 2011

Wine Roads of Sicily

With each landing into Catania's Fontanarossa airport, on Sicily's east coast, the same scene inevitably unfolds. Following a long interval of shimmering Mediterranean seascape, an immense cone-shaped mass of molten rock juts upwards so suddenly and tall it could seemingly scrape the underbelly of the plane. Even on a rainy day, the volcano's pointed tip looms large above the cloud line. "Look! Etna," the passengers whisper in relieved affirmation that their destination has been achieved.

A steady beacon and Mediterranean landmark since the time of the ancients, Mount Etna is a proud symbol of sicilianità—it sets the tone for the rest of the island. Unpredictable and exciting, epic and raw, tragic and beautiful: If a place can have sex appeal, Sicily has it in spades.

But what makes Sicily even more attractive to its visitors today—besides adventure, history and touring opportunities—is the fact that it is quickly becoming Italy's of-the-moment food-and-wine destination. A new generation of creative chefs is revisiting and reworking their grandmothers' secret recipes, and a new band of vintners is finally realizing the island's enological potential.

According to the Italian Tourist Board, Sicily is Italy's third most important wine and food destination after Tuscany and Piedmont, and although the data is difficult to confirm, some say Sicily has already clinched the number two spot over Piedmont. Yet despite the natural attraction wine enthusiasts feel for Sicily, enotourism is still in its infancy. Limited "wine roads" or "tasting itineraries" do exist in pinpoint areas like Alcamo in southwestern Sicily, but there is no effective island-wide entity charged with creating wine road maps and guidebooks, or coordinating strategies between winery tasting rooms, restaurants and hotels. At the end of the day, wine tourists are left to explore Sicily on their own. This can be both complicated and frustrating for foreigners.

Have a rental car but don't know where to start? Here are three wine itineraries that cover the island's main attractions, wineries and most-hyped restaurants.