OVERVIEW OF SICILY

Perhaps the most exciting wine region in Italy. The largest, most interesting and beautiful in the Mediterranean Sea. Colonized by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Normans and finally by Garibaldi bringing it into unified Italy in 1860. No country this size has had more influences to bear on  it than Sicily. These influences are so pronounced today in the food, the people and the fascinating mix of incredible sights all bound within this 1000 miles of beautiful coastline. Robertson Wine Tours can plan your Sicilian wine tour and combine this with culinary tours and cooking classes and more importantly with cultural and archaeological sites that are too numerous to name.

We have to state right now that no wine tour to Sicily would be complete without visiting and tastings the wines and wineries of Etna. Mount Etna is Europe's tallest active volcano at 10,930 feet (3330 metres). Wines from Etna are mineral-rich, but like nothing you have ever tasted. Nerello Mascalese and Cappuccio are the red wine varieties of Mount Etna. Sicilian autochthonous (indigenous) grape varieties tend to be for white the Catarratto, the Grillo and the Inzolia. Marsala is made from the Muscat of Alexandria and the wines from Island of Pantelleria come from the Zibibbo, the Sicilian name for the Moscato. Nero d'Avola, a hugely important red variety, is planted extensively and when blended with Frappato you have Sicily's only DOCG wine, the Cerasuolo di Vittoria. International varieties are planted none more so than Syrah, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. The disastrous 2014 vintage of Italy did not affect Sicily thank goodness. Any wine and culinary themed vacation to Sicily needs time. Don't try to seeing or doing too much. In Sicily less is more. 9 nights is the ideal time frame for a wine tour in Sicily, but we understand that you sometimes do not have that amount of time. If that is the case then we can bring the wines of the other Sicilian wine regions to you and we can concentrate on Etna's wines or base ourselves in Palermo or in one of the incredible wine resorts and discover Sicily from there. We love Sicily … end of story.

INTRODUCTION INTO SICILY

The largest and most interesting and beautiful island in the Mediterranean Sea. Colonized by Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Normans and finally by Giuseppe Garibaldi, bringing it into unified Italy in in 1860. No country this size has had more influences to bear on it than Sicily. These influences are so pronounced today in the food, the people and the fascinating mix of incredible sights all bound within this 1600km (1000 miles) of coastline. Make no mistake, Sicily is a country to its own and in such it deserves to be a destination of its own. Robertson wine tours can plan your Sicilian wine tour and combine this with culinary tours and cooking classes and more importantly with cultural and archaeological sights that are too numerous to name. Any wine and culinary themed vacation to Sicily needs time. Don't try to see or do too much because you can always return. In Sicily less is more.

It is our ethos at Robertson wine tours not to try to squeeze too much into a holiday. Sicily is enormous, the driving and roads are frankly awful, so don't self-drive. If you are looking for peace and tranquillity then let us deal with the logistics and driving so you can sit back and enjoy this incredible place.

Time to visit Sicily. Our suggestion is to come to Sicily in April, May or June and then followed by September and October. Sicily is blessed with consistent sunshine and a moderate rainfall, which are the characteristics of the 'classic Mediterranean climate'. In April the flora starts to show. Temperatures all over the island are generally pleasant from May onwards. The sea is warm but the beaches are still very much for yourselves. We do not suggest you to come to Sicily in July and August. It’s very hot, crowded and the only thing to do is take a beach holiday, which is of course not what you would be employing Robertson Wine tours for. Perhaps our favourite months to visit Sicily are September and October, the harvest is taking place, both wine and olives. In this period, temperatures are not oppressive and there is no longer the overcrowded feeling.

The wines of Sicily. Sicily has more vineyards than any of the other Italian regions and is constantly competing with Puglia (Apulia) for first place as the largest wine producer. Sicilians however consume less wine per capita than any region in Italy. Sicily historically used the goblet-trained (bush-shaped) vines, this type of plantings are low yield, high vineyard maintenance, and are particularly delicate. They are also the most interesting for fine wine production. Unfortunately for Sicily in the 60's and 70's many of these were ripped up by government subsidy programs and now most plantings are from the tendone and guyot training methods. What remains is now in great demand and no more so in the Etna region. We have to state right now that no wine tour to Sicily would be complete without visiting and tastings the wines and wineries of Etna. Mineral-rich, dark soils characterise the Etna wines. Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio (also known as Nerello Mantellato) are the red wine varieties of Mount Etna. Sicilian Autochthonous grape varieties tend to be for White, Catarratto , Grillo and Inzolia . Marsala is made from Muscat of Alexandria, and the wines from island of Pantelleria come from the Zibibbo, the Sicilian name for the Moscato. Red-varieties, Nero d'Avola, is then blended with Frappato, the second grape of Sicily's only DOCG wine Cerasuolo di Vittoria. International varieties are planted none more so than Syrah, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

HIGHLIGHTS

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The weather of Sicily

CLIMATE

Sicily is in the middle of the Mediterranean climate zone, which is also known as the dry summer subtropical climate. This climate has moderate temperatures and includes dry summers and wet winters.

AVERAGE TEMPERATURES

January 13˚C / 55˚F

February 13˚C / 55˚F

March 15˚C / 59 ˚F

April 18˚C / 64 ˚F

May 22˚C / 72 ˚F

June 25˚C / 77 ˚F

August 29˚C / 84 ˚F

September 26˚C / 79 ˚F

October 22˚C / 72 ˚F

November 18˚C / 64 ˚F

December 14˚C / 57 ˚F

SEA TEMPERATURES

– Winter: around 16 ˚C / 61 ˚F

– Summer: up to 26 ˚C / 79 ˚F

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