Agriculture has been practiced far longer in what is now the province of Catania and the areas around the volcano Etna than in any other part of Sicily.
At the end of the last century, Catania had the largest surface area planted in vines of all the Sicilian provinces. The outbreak of phylloxera at the beginning of the century provoked a major crisis.
Part of the crisis of production was due as well to eruptions of Mount Etna. In addition, the soils of the province are extremely difficult to cultivate because of the prevalence in their composition of sands. They damage the vines and tend to penetrate and clog the motors of farm equipment. However, none of the difficulties that curbed output ever harmed the excellent quality of the wines produced by the vines cloaking the slopes of the huge volcano. And it was not surprising, therefore, that the district’s wines were the first to qualify for the DOC designation back in 1968.
They are superb wines and they are rendered even more fascinating by their components, the ancient Carricante and Nerello Mascalese varieties, which appear weak and poor but which are in reality capable of producing big clusters with flavors that are richly nuanced.