Mount Etna Wines: What Makes Them So Special?

Posted on: January 15th, 2015 by

I’m crazy for bottles from Sicily and especially Mount Etna wines. The reds are primarily made from the Nerello Mascalese grape; the white wines are mostly Carricante. Tasting these wines (and even some rosé and sparkling!) while on Vulcano Island attending “Sicilia en Primeur” as a media guest last year was one of many vinous highlights. When I returned I contacted Michele Faro of Pietradolce, whose wines I very much enjoyed there, with some follow-up questions.Mont Etna wines like the Pietradolce Archineri Rosso should be on your must-drink list.

(I’d also like to add that I love the wine labels. Definitely label-lust inducing.)

JF: What makes the vineyards of Mount Etna distinct from other parts of Sicily when it comes to terrain and climate for growing grapes?

MF: “Etna is a really different terroir compared to the other areas of Sicily. Etna is an ‘island in the island’ because we are on the mountain (about 900m above sea level). We have wonderful volcanic soil, we have big temperature [differences] between night and day, and we have a lot of…different valleys and difference ‘contrade’ (cru).

“We really work in an extreme area; you cannot think to produce wine on Mount Etna without a huge passion for this terroir. I was born in this area; my grandfather was a small producer of wines from Etna. That’s why I have this passion in my blood.”

Read the rest of the interview about Mount Etna wines on Grape Collective

Check out some of photos from my trip. Including active volcanoes, Prohibition-era Marsala bottles, and stupendous sunsets.

Curious about the history of Sicily and its wines? Listen to my podcast with Frances di Savino and Bill Nesto MW, authors of “The World of Sicilian Wine”:

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8 Responses

  1. I have such travel envy when I read these kinds of posts! I think a trip like that would be wasted on me though. I love pretty much any wine you put in front of me. 😉 Of course, I don’t know that I’ve ever actually had a *really* good wine. Someday!

    • Jameson Fink says:


      Well there’s a lot of great food, too. How could it be wasted on you? I’d be very curious to hear what you have to say about all these Sicilian wines.



  2. Shinee says:

    I love a good glass of wine (who doesn’t anyway?) I’ve never tries this wine, will definitely look for it next time shop for a bottle of wine. Now going to Grape Collective to finish the interview. Thanks!

    • Jameson Fink says:


      Highly recommend trying anything from Sicily made from the native grapes. Nero d’Avola (red) is a good place to start. There is so much diversity when it comes to Sicilian wine.



  3. So interesting! We finally got to take a trip to California and we did nothing but hit wineries from Lost Angeles to Santa Rosa!

  4. Looking forward to seeing both you and Bill Nesto’s presentation next week!

    Thanks for the article.

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