Our small group met at Taormina station and boarded a mini bus for the hills around the volcanic area of Mount Etna. As we drove through the rural towns our guide Alida explained how important agriculture is in Sicily and many of the locals live and work off the land. Some of the most popular crops are tomatoes, zucchini (courgette), oranges, lemons (different varieties, available throughout the year), mandarins, olives and nuts including hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts and pistachios.
Within a few hours after stopping to take in the spectacular scenery and old towns we arrived at Linguaglossa where Gambino Vino sits, 800m above sea level. The small winery is a family owned and run business with the father, sons and daughter all working on the day of our visit. The eldest son told us that all the grapes are hand-picked and as some vines don’t get as much sun as others because they are planted on terraces, so the winery works with an ergonomist to decide when those grapes have had enough sun and when the right time is to pick them.
Once inside we were taken to a long table with generous antipasti platters and fresh bread. We were taken through tastings of one white and three red wines – my favourites were the white and the final red.
The wines we tasted were:
Feud’o – Terre Siciliane Bianco
Feud’o – Terre Siciliane Rosso
Alicant – Sicilia Rosso
Tifeo – Etna Rosso
As Gambino Vino are a small winery they do not yet ship to Australia but they are hoping to make arrangements to do so over the next year.
On the way back to Taormina we visited the town of Castiglione di Sicilia, which translates to castle with lions / the force of the valley. We walked the cobblestoned streets of this somewhat deserted city with beautiful old buildings and homes that would have been extraordinary in their day but as there is little work around a lot of people have left and sadly many homeowners don’t have the money to restore these old treasures.
As well as tasting great wine grown on volcanic soil, the tour was an interesting insight into life in the mountains and to see some of the remaining history of rural Sicily.
Check out more of my Sicily posts: