A Palmento in Solicchiata Visiting a natural wine maker in Sicily

High on the north face of Mount Etna, on the island of Sicily, near the village of Solicchiata, there is a Palmento.

A Palmento is a traditional Etnean wine building. There are many such buildings scattered across the Sicilian countryside but very few are still being used to make wine. Some have become restaurants and tasting rooms, others are now shops or storage rooms, one is even a luxury spa. However, this is not such a Palmento. Here, wine is most definitely being made. Made by hand with love & respect; with a desire to remain true. True to tradition and to this place - this Palmento, these ancient vines, and these buried Quaveri - the home of Vino Di Anna.

Vino di Anna is a small family operation. Anna Martens and Eric Narioo started making wine together on Mount Etna in 2008. In 2010 they purchased their first vineyard of old, vine Nerello Mascelese and a 250 yr old palmento wine building which they restored and “Vino di Anna” was created. Today they own 6 hectares of land which they farm biodynamically. They have extended the winery and buried 9 Georgian qvevri for vinification and maturation.

Each year during the vintage celebration, many visiting friends and family join come visit and together, they bring in the harvest.

All of the vineyards are farmed organically and tended by hand. The grapes are harvested from 60 – 100 year old alberello (bush) vines.

Mount Etna is an incredible place - especially to grow vines and make wine. The soils are black, fertile and rich in minerals. The vineyards are mostly located along terraces at high altitudes and the volcano is in constant eruption, often sprinkling the vines with fresh cinders. The climate can be extreme, making it both an exciting and challenging place to make natural wine.

Nerello Mascalese is the principal red grape, coupled with small percentages of Nerello Cappuccio and Alicante. The white is a field blend, mainly Grecanico and Carricante. Vino di Anna makes a range of natural wines with minimal intervention, natural yeasts, no additives, no fining or filtering.

After the grapes are harvested, they are brought into either the 250 year old Palmento or the newer wine building for vinification.

Depending on the wine variety being made, some amount of the grapes are desteamed while others are left as whole bushels.
The grapes are macerated for days, being foot trodden several times.
The fermenting must is then pressed and stored to continue fermenting.
For different varieties, the fermentation may continue in stainless steel, oak casks and/or buried Georgian qvevris (amphorae).
After at least six months on fine lees the wine is bottled.

a huge thank you to Eliza Jane Smith, Patricia Convery, Ian and Sue marrtens, and of course, Anna Martens, Eric Narioo, Valerio Spampinato, and all the amazing people of Solicchiata and Vino di Anna.



all photography by hesh hipp © heshphoto, inc  •  written by Anna Martens with editing by hesh hipp  •  wine and fine living by Vino di Anna

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