Wine production in Sicily goes back almost three millennia. The ancient Greeks dubbed Sicily and southern Italy Oenotria, “land of the vine.” From the beginning of recorded history, both the Phoenicians in western Sicily and the Greeks in eastern Sicily, exported Sicilian wine throughout the Mediterranean world. The island is an ideal location in which to grow grapes. Its Mediterranean climate gives it ample sunshine, while its topography guarantees it ample rain.The warm, dry climate and the absence of summer rains mitigate disease pressure from mildews and rots. The coastal areas, where most of the vineyards are located, also benefit from coastal breezes. In summer the Sirocco, a hot, dry wind from the Sahara Desert, reduces humidity and also helps mitigate fungal infections. The light disease pressure means that chemical use is low. Many vineyards are farmed organically.Sicily’s soils range from calcareous to volcanic. Both soil types are ideal for wine grape cultivation as they are quick draining and low in nutrients. The younger volcanic soils, like the ones found on the slopes of Mount Etna, are also mineral-rich. Coastal regions have mostly calcareous soils, while soils in the hilly areas consist of a mix of decomposed volcanics and igneous rocks. Sicily has more than 50 varieties of indigenous grapes. The better-known ones, Nero d’Avola, Grillo, Cataratto, Inzolia, Zibibbo. Other varieties, are Grecanico, Perricone, Nocera, Frappato, Nerello Mascalese. In addition, Sicily also hosts large acreages devoted to international wine varieties like, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. International varieties are often blended with indigenous grapes to produce distinctive and unique Sicilian wines. Currently, Sicily, has 1 DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita/Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin), 23 DOCs (Denominazione di Origine Controllata/Denomination of Controlled Origin) and 7 IGPs (Indicazione Geografica Tipica/Typical Geographic Indication). In addition to Etna, its other highly rated wine producing region is Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG. The DOCG classification is Italy’s highest wine quality rating.
With its 98,000 hectares of vineyards, Sicily leads Tuscany and Piemonte in wine production and eschews stereotypes about southern wine. Because while Sicily's climate may be balmy year-round, it is a hilly region marked by mountains, including Mount Etna and the Madonie Mountains.