A wine tour to the splendours of Sicily, the wine, the food and the sunshine
— Sicily is becoming one of the “hot” wine regions in Italy. They have their own unique grape varieties that give wines filled with fruit and freshness. Nero d’avola, for example, makes powerful yet fresh wines. The quality has increased with meteoric speed the last few decades. It is also an island filled with culture and a rich history. They have their very own gastronomy; Sicilian food has nothing to envy the rest of Italy: fresh fish, sun-ripened vegetables and much more. And plenty of sunshine and warmth!
The biggest island of the Mediterranean has a very special charm. Perhaps it is the location that almost touches North Africa. Or the majestic landscape dominated by mountains and not least Etna, the volcano. Or the Greek heritage that is noticeable everywhere, for examples the temples, the arenas, and the harbour town of Syracuse.
Then there is the wine! Wines that are just getting better and better, something that you will notice for yourself on this very interesting and exciting wine tour.
You can find vines all over Sicily. We will concentrate on the eastern and south-eastern regions: the vineyards in the black volcanic soil on Etna and the new stars around the cities of Ragusa, Vittoria, Syracuse and Pachino on the south-east tip of the island.
To cover the entire island in a few days is impossible. It is a mountainous landscape and getting around takes time. Only 14% of the island is flat land. But that also means that the landscape is beautiful, spectacular, and with a very long Mediterranean coast line.
A long time ago Sicilian wines were almost synonymous with Marsala. But that is indeed a very long time ago. This sweet and fortified wine is still produced on the western part of Sicily but today more people think of Moscato de Pantelleria, if you are looking for a sweet wine.
But the big thing now is the table wines. First the red wines. They can be full-bodied, made from the nero d’avola grape that is a recent international success story. Or it can be white wine from grapes like inzolia, catarratto and carricante. These red and white wines are our main focus on this tour among the Sicilian vineyards.
In many southern countries the wines tend sometimes to become overly powerful. Not so here. There are local, traditional grape varieties well adapted to the hot climate of the island.
The Sicilian grapes can also make full-bodied wines but they always maintain a fresh and fruity acidity, making the wines very balanced and enjoyable. We will discover a whole family of grape varieties, both red and white, that few people are familiar with today, that have not yet reach international fame. But it will come!
We will stay in Catania the first and the last night. You arrange for your own travel to Catania. They have good flight connections with most of Europe. The second and third night we stay in Syracuse, an ancient city founded by the Greeks. It was an important city in both the Greek and Roman empires. Syracuse has an amazing and charming old city centre filled with old houses, churches and private palaces.
We are not far from Greece and that also shows on the gastronomy. We will enjoy gourmet lunches together, often along with a wine tasting, as guests of wine producers. Evenings are free for your own explorations.
The tour is led by one of BKWine’s wine and travel expert guides.
We have written a lot about Sicily and about wine touring in the region, what to do and what to expect.
Here you can find more about travelling in the Sicily wine regions.
You can also find more information on the wines from Sicily on BKWine Magazine.
Program — Sicily wine tour
This is a sample program, an example. Every wine and food tour that we organise is different and specially adapted for the season and the circumstances. Details in the program, e.g. which producers we visit, will be different each time.
For more details, contact BKWine.
- Wednesday — Arrival in Catania
- Thursday — Etna, on the slopes of the volcano
- Friday — Ragusa, Vittoria, the inland regions and the origin of nero d’avola
- Saturday — Noto, Pachino, Sicily’s southern tip
- Sunday — Heading back home
Wednesday / Day 1 — Arrival in Catania
Arrival in Catania and check-in at our centrally located hotel. From the airport it is a 20 minutes drive to the city.
Catania is the second city in Sicily, after Palermo, and is dominated by its closeness to Etna, the volcano. It is an active volcano and every once in a while a think layer of black dust, ashes, cover the streets of Catania. Like many other cities on Sicily, Catania was completely destroyed by the earthquake in 1693 and was totally rebuilt in Baroque style. There are many beautiful baroque buildings dating from that time, as well as churches and not least the Doumo, the impressive cathedral.
The evening is free for you to enjoy the city. Perhaps a glass of catarratto for aperitif? The white catarratto grape is the most widely planted variety on Sicily.
Thursday / Day 2 — Etna, on the slopes of the volcano
Our bus picks us up in the morning after breakfast and we head north, towards Etna (sometimes spelled Aetna).
Etna is Europe’s biggest active volcano. It is also one of Europe’s most spectacular wine regions. This is where you find nerello mascalese, planted on the slopes of the volcano in the black soil.
The vineyards are mostly on high altitude, up to 1000 metres. They are mostly trained in the traditional alberello fashion, like small gnarled bushes.
Nerello mascalese thrive in the black soil. It is like fine sand allowing the roots to penetrate deep down. Hot daytime temperatures and cool nights make for a long growing season. Harvest can be as late as the middle of October or even November.
Etna is one of the “hottest” wine regions in Italy today, talking about trends. More and more wine producers arrive here and buy land, both other parts of Sicily, from mainland Italy and from other countries. It is clear that there is a tremendous potential for quality, judging from other winemakers’ interest in the region.
Winding roads bring us up to the northern face of the volcano. We aim for a small village called Passopisciaro at 600 m altitude.
Here is where we find Tenuta di Passopisciaro, created by Andrea Franchetti some ten years ago. In addition to nerello mascalese he also grows petit verdot. The volcanic soil is difficult to work but it is worth the effort, says the winemaker.
We do not need to travel far to get to our next winery. It is owned by Frank Cornelissen, originally from Antwerp. He belongs to the “natural wine school” whose credo is to do as little as possible to the wines during vinification. He even ages his wine in terracotta amphorae buried in the soil. “Natural wine” is one of the big subjects of debate in (some parts of) the wine world today. This visit will give us an occasion to see what they are really worth!
We will stop for lunch in the small village of Randazzo, on the north-west side of the volcano, at a trattoria where the whole family is involved. They will serve us plenty of delicious Sicilian specialities.
In the afternoon we head south. Our target is the wonderful town of Syracuse, about an hour’s drive from Catania. We will stay here two nights in a hotel with only two steps to the sea. Evening is free to explore Syracuse.
Friday / Day 3 — Ragusa, Vittoria, the inland regions and the origin of nero d’avola
Today is dedicated mainly to the nero d’avola grape, the best know variety of Sicily. We will bas close to the city of Avola that has given its name to the grape. We are heading towards Ragusa and Vittoria.
Not far from Vittoria we will visit a producer with the short name of COS, a very ambitious and interesting winery. The owner, Giusto Occhipinti, farms the vineyards organically. With the excellent Sicilian weather there is no need for chemicals, he says. He ages his wines in a very traditional way, in clay amphorae buried in the earth. He has a whole building entirely dedicated to the wine-filled amphorae. What difference does it make for the wine? You will taste it and decide for yourself!
Gulfi is a beautiful estate near the village of Chiaramonte. The Gulfi winery was created in the middle of the 1990s. They use the indigenous grape varieties, the white carricante and albanello, making a dry and full-bodied white wine with hints of peaches. For the reds they use, among other grapes, nero d’avola. Their Nerosanlore is full of aromas and concentrated. We will have the opportunity to taste these wines together with food since at the Gulfi winery they also have a top-class restaurant. You even have a view over fermentation tanks in the vat hall from the restaurant.
The restaurant at Gulfi is one of the most ambitious that we have seen at a winery. They serve local specialities, absolutely fresh ingredients, often with a lot of fish and seafood. Their home-made bread is divine as is their own olive oil made from an olive called tonda iblea. We can promise you a delicious gastronomic experience at the level of international top class restaurants.
This day will also feature Cerasuolo di Vittoria, the first and so far only DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata et Garantita, the highest quality label in Italy). It is a blend of the frappato and the nero d’avola grapes, grown primarily in the vineyards between Ragusa and Vittoria.
Frappato gives it some hints of cherries and a wine made only from frappato is light in body. Some Cerasuolo di Vittoria are made for easy drinking, others are made with very low yields and get more concentration.
We arrive back in Syracuse late afternoon. The evening is free to explore on of the many restaurants, perhaps in the harbour with fresh fish and some wine from yet another winery?
Saturday / Day 4 — Noto, Pachino, Sicily’s southern tip
Today we go south from Syracuse towards the baroque town of Noto. We are heading to the southern-most tip of Sicily, to the region called Pachino. It is known for its high-quality wines made from nero d’avola. They have several different types of soil each giving a distinct character to the wines.
Nero d’avola is indeed the base for the wines that Antonio Moretti makes at the Feudo Maccari winery in Pachino. Delicious and well balanced. He works with one of Italy’s most famous oenologist, Carlo Ferrini.
Near Syracuse the Pupillo family have their beautiful family estate. Their wines are highly prized and they make both dry, semi-sweet, and sweet wines. One of the grapes they use is the rare muscato di siracusa but they also use nero d’avola and other Sicilian varieties.
The lunch this day will be at one of the wineries we visit. They have prepared a number of Sicilian specialities for us, like pasta con fave (with beans and grated pecorino cheese), cannolo (a delicious crunchy cake filled with sweet goat ricotta), grilled sardines, octopus, or lamb stew.
After the last visit of the day we return to Catania for our last night. The evening is free to once more explore the restaurants and the night-life of this bustling city.
Sunday / Day 5 — Heading back home
The tour ends after breakfast. Departure.
Program may be subject to minor modifications.
Tour Details — Wine tour to Sicily
Price per person: This is a sample program. Look in the menu “Our Tours > Scheduled Tours” to check what scheduled tours are currently on the program or contact us to discuss a custom made private wine tour.
Included in the price:
- 4 hotel nights, double occupancy, including breakfast
- 2 nights in Catania, and
- 2 nights in Syracuse
- Meals as described in the program above (*):
- 3 gastronomic multi-course lunches, including wine, at wineries or local typical restaurants
- Start and end point: Catania
- Bus transport during the whole trip
- All vineyard and winery visits
- Private, high quality tastings at wineries, approx. 3 per day
- Interpretation from Italian as needed, some visits may be in English, others in Italian
- Wine guiding and wine tutoring by an expert BKWine guide
(*) See below for more important information on our meals.
- Travel (flights) to the destination and back from your home location.
You organise your travel to the destination yourself. If you want assistance with organising your flight tickets etc, please contact us.
We warmly recommend that you plan a few extra days here if you have the time! It is a very interesting place and well worth some “non-wine” tourism too! We can assist you with booking additional hotel nights if you want.
Book This Tour
You book by contacting Britt Karlsson, BKWine:
- phone: +33 1 58 88 04 66 or +33 6 80 45 35 70 (+33 is the country code for France)
- email: info at bkwine dot com
- skype: bkwine
More on our wine tours
About the wine producers and wineries we visit
Our aim is that you shall experience some of the best and most interesting that the wine region has to offer, both of wine and food.
We put a big effort into finding and creating outstanding winery visits. Often it will not be the most “famous” and internationally well-known wineries that will give you the best and most unique experiences…
It is usually when you get to meet the winemaker or winery owner himself (or often herself) that the visits become really exciting. And perhaps we even meet the whole family at the estate.
You start discussing and start to understand what it is they do and why in the winery and in the vineyard. Maybe we will also have lunch in the winery or at their home. Need we say we invariably have private wine tastings at the wineries?
That is why our trips are not “jam packed” with visits at wineries. Nevertheless we often run short of time since the discussions – and the wine tastings – can easily become very engaging…
Our wine country tours typically include a mix of small family producers, exclusive boutique wineries and larger internationally well-known wine estates, all selected with great care so that it will give you a unique experience of the people and of the behind-the-scenes in the winery and a good understanding of the wine district’s characteristics, tradition and culture.
At the time of publishing a travel program not all visits have been finalised. We are continuously working on improving the program. The domaines / wineries / châteaux that we visit on a tour may therefore sometimes differ from what was written in the original program. Contact us if you want more details, or if you have any special requests.
On meals: food and gastronomy
Wine and food are intimately linked. That is part of our wine travel philosophy; wine is an integral part of the gastronomy.
A wine tour with BKWine will therefore also be a gastronomic experience.
The meals that are included in a tour with BKWine are on a gourmet level and of very high standard.
Sometimes we will have a meal with a winemaker, perhaps in the wine cellar or at the winery, or even in their home. This is a unique experience that is generally not open to other visitors to wineries. It is an occasion to experience exciting combinations of food and wine while discussing with the people who made the wine.
Sometimes we will have a luxurious meal at a gourmet restaurant. At other times it may be not at a prestigious luxury address but at a local restaurant selected for its presentation of local gastronomic specialities, its atmosphere and its quality – a place where locals go. Or perhaps it will be a buffet lunch made at home by the winemaker and his wife. In all cases we want to show you local gastronomic specialities and the local food and wine pairings.
Do not expect a picnic with salad and sausage from the supermarket and wine in plastic mugs… Think instead of a wine-and-dine experience with specially composed menu with three or four courses and delicious wines.
A wine tour with BKWine is also a culinary experience both for the wine enthusiast and for the gourmet. A gourmet wine tour!
Why travel with BKWine?
We are experts and specialists in wine and food tours and wine tourism, but also in wine in a broader perspective.
No other tour operator has a comparable knowledge and experience of wine, wine regions, wine tours and gourmet travel as BKWine.
We have organised hundreds of wine and food tours. This is what we love to do, because it is fun and exciting. What we want more than anything is to share with you all these wonderful experiences.
It does not matter if you are “a total novice” on wine and food or if you have a life-long experience in the wine sector. We will give you a very special experience, in a way that no other tour operator can do.
We write in specialised wine magazines and one of our books has won the prize as best wine book in the world. We are regularly called on to be part of judging panels in wine competitions.
We personally visit some 300 vineyards every year. We have organised several hundreds of wine and food tours with an experience going back more than twenty years. We are invited as speakers at wine tourism and culinary touring conferences.
We choose our tour destinations and winery visits with great care. Not because a winery happens to be carrying a “famous name” but because they will give our guests — you! — a unique and special experience. You may be looking for a short wine week-end holiday or a longer wine vacation; in all cases you can be confident that you will get a top quality tour, an experience of a lifetime. Or at least one that will last you until the next time you come on a wine tour with BKWine. Many of our travellers are returning clients.
A wine and food tour with BKWine is always guided by a knowledgeable and experienced BKWine guide and tour manager, someone who knows the ins and outs of wine, of the local gastronomy, of the culture and who speaks the language.
Some accolades we at BKWine and our wine and food tours have received:
- “World’s Top Wine Tours” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, the world’s biggest travel magazine
- “Best wine tasting holidays”, AOL Travel’s list of top wine tours
- “Recommended Wine Tours” by Munskankarna, the world’s biggest wine tasting and wine appreciation association
- “World’s Best Wine Book for Professionals” as well as “Best Wine Book of the Year” in Sweden 2010 for the book The Creation of a Wine
- “Best wine book for Professionals” again in 2012 in Sweden, as well as silver, runner-up, as “World’s Best Educational Wine Book” for the book Wine and the Environment
- “Wine Personality of the Year” by Munskankarna, the world’s biggest wine tasting and wine appreciation association
- On the Wine Media Power List by Wine Business International Magazine (Britt, 2012)
Read more on why to choose BKWine for a wine and food tour.
Read more on what previous travellers have said about our tours.
Our groups are always small. The group size may vary, sometimes maximum 8, sometimes 20, but always of a modest size (we do not do “minimum 20, maximum 45”). Check the details in each program. This is important since it guarantees a quality experience and a personal welcome at the wineries we visit.
BKWine is a Swedish registered travel organiser. BKWine has a bonded travel guarantee deposit so that you can feel safe when booking with us. We fully comply with European and Swedish travel guarantee regulations. British travellers may be familiar with the ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) protection scheme which is a similar model. BKWine follows the code of conduct and financial safeguards defined by the Swedish Consumer Agency and The Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency (“Kammarkollegiet”, with a history dating back to 1539). Read more about this in our Booking Terms and Conditions.
Read the BKWine Booking Terms and Conditions here. They are important to you!
You organise your travel independently to the destination for most of our tours but on location we take care of everything.
For more inspiration
Read our wine travel blog. And also:
- Recommend this trip to a friend using the Share/Save (add-to-any) button below!
- There are thousands of pictures from previous trips on BKWine Photography
Newsletter on wine
Subscribe to our free wine and travel newsletter, the BKWine Brief. Each month it gives you news from the world of wine, restaurant recommendations, tips on our favourite wine producers and much more. And keeps you updated on upcoming wine and food tours.
We also do custom wine and food tours if you want to choose different dates or if you want something different than what we currently offer on our scheduled tours – for individuals, companies, professionals, wine tastings clubs etc.