Viticultural area: Etna Park

Associated viticultural areas Italy Italy Sicily Sicily Etna Park Etna Park

The Etna Park

Vines were grown on the slopes of the Etna volcano to make wine in far off times. Homer, Virgil, Pliny and Strabo all extol the virtues of Etna wines and the fertility of the volcano. The discovery of wild vines at the foot of Etna proves that vines were already present in the Tertiary period. Etna wine-growing entered into history in the 8th century B.C. with the Greek settlers, who introduced a form of growing vines known as the Aegean tree. Roman rule, considering the wine produced here as being the best to be transported, helped Etna wines to become know also in other countries. Between the 18th century and the late 19th century wine was produced on a large scale, thanks to the flourishing wine trade with French, Austro-Hungarian and British navies. In the 19th century Catania, along with the Etna vine-growing area, reach its maximum extension with about 8,000 hectares. The 20th century saw a sharp decline in the planted areas due to phylloxera and the widespread trading crisis. Following the financial crisis in 1960 Etna wine-growing has gradually been redeveloped using more modern vine-growing and wine-making techniques.

Facts and figures
Total vine-growing area of the Etna Park (ha.)

3,000

Total wine-growing area on difficult terrain
(altitude, steep slopes, terracing) (ha.)

2,700

Area with slopes > 30% (ha.)

450

Area at an altitude > 500 m above sea level (ha.)

2,700

Area terraced (ha.)

2,250

Maximum altitude of the vineyards (m above sea level)

1,000

Vineyards on difficult terrain

Mountainous and hilly areas on the slopes of the volcano

(Data updated to 2006)

Subdivision of the area

Exactly half of the wineries have an area between 0.2 and 1 ha., occupying 38% of the area. 40% of the wineries cultivate less than 0.2 ha corresponding to 10% of the area, while 8% have holdings between 1 and 3 ha on 24% of the total area. Much rarer, just 2%, are the wineries with over 3 hectares; covering 28% of the whole area.

Wine-growing landscape

The Etna wine-growing landscape has been formed through the labour of man, who since the beginning of time has fought against the ambiguity of Mount Etna, “Fertile mountain” and “Dreaded volcano”.
The vineyards still retain the characteristic features of long ago, which made them unique in the eyes of 18th century travellers: irregular-shaped patches, terraces with dry lavatic stone walls, stone “towers”, tiny cottages and elegant mansions, sometimes complete with cellar and millstone made of lavatic stone, olive, mulberry, cherry and chestnut trees nearby the boundaries. Vine-growing on the Etna is also a site of enormous cultural as well as scientific value, given the biodiversity of the vines grown, described in the recollections of 18th and 19th century scholars.

Main vines

White grapes:

  • Carricante
  • Catarratto bianco comune
  • Inzolia
Black grapes:

  • Nerello Mascalese
  • Nerello Cappuccio
  • Alicante or Grenache