Sicily: Modern wines and other vine products

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

With a total vineyard area of 114,290 ha/282,296 acres, Sicily produced 6 million hl of wine in 2013, making it Italy’s second most important wine region after the Veneto. The 12,834 ha of doc and igt vineyards represent only 14% of the total, however, with 86% of the total still dedicated to the production of bulk wine. The concentration on quantity over quality, systematically encouraged between 1960 and 1987 by the regional government’s subsidies for the transformation of traditional bush vines into more productive wire-trained or tendone systems led to a chronic cycle of over-production, with the eu’s compulsory distillation regime encouraging co-operatives to produce wine they knew would be distilled and grape concentrate used for enrichment. However, the current increase in good wines produced is a strong indicator that Sicily is slowly beginning to turn the corner from a bulk wine to a quality producer, or at least that both can co-exist. The slow decline in the production of bulk wine is partly because of a decline in demand, and partly because compulsory distillation has largely been abandoned.