A trip worth the climb, up the slopes of the Etna volcanoe. A journey to discover the tastes and breath-taking views overlooking the Volcanoe and the Nebrodi mountains, an unpairable overdose of beauty. You come upon small stories of exceptional routine that reveal schemes weaved by fine threads of emotions and strong temper. Stories of normal people that make Sicily a land to be proud of. Let’s explore them!
The winemaking passion is within the Russo family’s DNA. Their love for Solicchiata, a fraction with a sprinkle of houses just a few kilometers from Castiglione di Sicilia near that uniqueness called Etna. Now at its fourth generation, the Russo family celebrates its sixty-year experience together with nonno Vincenzo, class 1938. In 1955 Vincenzo set the bases of one of the leading wineries producing excellent made in Sicily wines. “I know my vineyards one by one as if they were my children” Vincenzo senior says with evident emotion, while glancing proudly towards his vines. “I could recognize each vine, stone after stone, even with my eyes closed”.
In the beginning Vincenzo and his father Francesco used to sell their produce as bulk wine as other Sicilian wineries before the so called Wine Renaissance that raised Sicily to the Bacchus firmament. “When I was 18 my father sent me to Milan to sell our wine and later in Germany. I remember we used to sell it 500 Lire per litre”, says nonno Vincenzo, “I then realized that bottled wine was the future .” He then founded the “Rusvini”, first brand that is still now a line of IGT wines. “Solicchiata” is the name of the first wine bottles in 1956, an accomplishment for Vincenzo that has always believed in the high potential of his land. It was in the strenghth in his ideas that year after year he reached his objective as entrepreneur. Winery and family binding with his children Francesco and Gina that followed their father’s footsteps.
Today Cantine Russo is a successful firm that produces wine that derives from dedication, perseverance and love around the world.
“When I was a child I used to run away from preschool”, says Francesco, 43 and oenologist, “I used to hide within the wine barrels. It was my grandfather that involved me at that time. Since then I already knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I like everything about wine,” he continues, “the winemaking world is a continuous challenge because it’s a mix of history and chemistry. It’s a continuous research in a unique territory of the Etna area in which every plot of land, even those next to each other, are different and produce wines with different characteristics.” As his father, Francesco is proud of his origins. It’s thanks to his determination that he created Mon Pit 11 a sparkling wine, first classified of this category within the Guida ai Vini di Sicilia. This wine obtained with white wine vinification of soft-pressed nerello mascalese has elegant minerality. The vineyards are located from 650 to 1000 meters above sea level in the contrade of Crasà, Piano Daini and Rampante, a dry and well ventilated area with exceptional day-night thermal excursions during the ripening of the grapes. The diverse volcanic substrate of the different areas characterizes the different vineyards.
Today the “Cantine Russo s.r.l.” owns almost 25 hectars of vinyards cultivated with authoctonous varieties as Nerello mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, used for the Etna Rosso DOC Rampante, a ruby red wine, very fruity and harmonious, that can elegantly be aged and has received many recognitions. Other varieties of the estate are the Carricante and the Catarratto with which the Etna Bianco DOC Rampante is produced: refined aromas and lively taste. These wines appeal not only to the European market but also to China, Turkey, Armenia and Unites States. Gina Russo, the winery export manager, travels around the world together with the wine. A real challenge to manage her different roles of mother, wife and enterpreneur. “Along with the wine there is the story of those who produce it, the territory and the place it tells about”, says with determination Gina. “People want to know all about what’s inside the glass”. A challenging task that of Gina Russo since last year the vice president of the Movimento del Turismo del Vino in Sicily. “Ours is a welcoming winery”, she says with enthusiasm, “we are quite happy to open the winery doors and show tourists and wine lovers where and how our wine is made. We also enjoy enhancing our guests with tastings and food matching with typical local products”. Visitors will certainly not be disappointed, besides it could be a great occasion to visit the ancient Castrum Leonis (Castiglione di Sicilia), its medieval churches that adorn the lanes of one of Italy’s most beautiful towns that still maintains its ancient beauty. A slow destination to experience with the heart…
Maria Lina Bommarito