Cottanera Winery

The wine industry in Sicily has been going through a period of rapid change over the past twenty years. The popularity and prestige of Sicilian wine is rapidly on the rise.

One of the best experiences in Sicily is wine tasting in a winery on the slopes of Mount Etna.
Located in the Alcantara Valley on the northern side of Mount Etna you will find the medieval hilltop town of Castiglione di Sicilia which is also known as the City of Wine due to its proximity to so many of Mount Etna's wineries. Below the town is the delightfully named 'Strade del Vino dell Etna' (the roads of Etna's wine).
Along these roads you can visit some of Mount Etna's wineries and taste the volcanos fabulously delicious wines.
In May this year we had decided to escape the madness of the G7 Summit which was being held in Taormina and head for a mountain getaway to Agriturismo San Cataldo in the heart of the Alcantara Valley which put us in a prime location for wine tasting.
We have partaken in many wine tasting experiences at some wonderful Etna wineries and we are always eager to try somewhere new so I called my lovely friend Simona Ferro founder of Tripping Sicily who arranges wine tasting tours and said "Where should we go?" She replied "Cottanera ... it is a beautiful winery with amazing wines and great hospitality" and so we arranged to meet Simona at the winery for brunch and wine tasting.
Our dog Daisy loves socialising and she also loves a wine tasting tour.
After breakfast at San Cataldo we all jumped in our car and headed for Castiglione di Sicilia and the Cottanera Winery.
The drive takes you through sun kissed countryside surrounded by stunning green mountains and you are watched as always by Mount Etna. We drove through the quaint medieval town of Francavilla di Sicilia and past Castiglione high above us with its houses sitting on its steep slope and its ancient castle dominating the town.
Cottanera Winery sits 700 metres above sea level and the vineyard grows over lava stone.
The winery was established in the early 1990's by Guglielmo Cambria and his brother Enzo who had a vision of turning the then hazelnut grove into a winery. The winery sits on 100 hectares of land 65 of which makeup the vineyard. The name of the winery comes from an ancient village that runs alongside the family vineyards, along the banks of the Alcantara River. Today, after the death of Guglielmo, Cottanera is run by his brother Enzo, and the children of the co-founder, Mariangela, Francesco and Emanuele.
On arrival we drove along a road that took us through part of the vineyard and past olive trees towards the winery which is a complex of traditional pink buildings with green shutters and a welcoming courtyard where we were greeted by our host Patrizia.
Patrizia suggested first a guided tour of the vineyard and the wine cellars before our brunch and tasting. It never ceases to amaze me when I see the huge vats with wine in progress and the smell of the oak barrels to me is absolutely divine.
What makes Cottanera so unique is that all operations are carried out by a team of women, these women also harvest the grapes which dates back to wine production traditions on Mount Etna.
After our tour we headed to the tasting room for brunch and wine tasting.
The tasting room is glorious and at once we felt at home with beautiful artwork and maps adorning the stone walls. Huge windows act like supersized photo frames of Etna and the vineyard making it perfect when tasting the wine to raise your glass to its creator. On the day we visited Etna decided to cloud over but you always know she is there.
We sat ready for our wine tasting and one by one Patrizia brought out tempting dishes including arancini, wood-oven baked bread with Cottanera olive oil (did I mention that they produce their own olive oil as well?), home grown olives and sundried tomatoes with a selection of local cheeses and local salami from the Nebrodi mountains, bruschetta, frittata and fresh ricotta sprinkled with pistachio from Bronte.
Everything was completely yummy and went perfectly with the two wines we tasted.

The first wine we tasted was the Etnabianco a delicous white wine made from selected Carricante grapes. We could taste various scents ranging from fresh citrus fruits most of all grapefruit.
The second wine was the Etnarosso DOC which is produced from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio grapes. The taste was rich and in particular intensely floral and slightly fruity with aromas bearing a fresh taste that is typical of Mount Etna wines.
Both wines were fresh to the palate, interesting and enjoyable.
As a special treat for dessert we had the most yummiest homemade crostata which was made from the vineyards grape must.
Patrizia was an excellent and knowledgeable host and we received first class personalised attention and it is obvious she enjoys  both her work and the winery. Of course Daisy fell in love with her.
After an enjoyable brunch and wine tasting we said our goodbyes and left with a bottle of Cottanera olive oil which I have to say really is like tasting pure liquid gold.
Cottanera is a wonderful tranquil winery in a beautiful setting perfect for a wine tasting experience, special events and weddings.
For updates and photos follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The winery is approximately a one hour drive from Taormina by car.

Visit their website at

For amazing Mount Etna excursions by jeep and wine tasting with Simona visit
If you love wine tours 'The Train of the Wines of Etna' is a unique way to experience wine tasting in Sicily. 
Travelling the slopes of Etna by the Ferrovia Circumetnea and then taking the 'Wine Bus' you can visit the “Strade del Vino dell’Etna” (the roads of Etna's wines) and freely discover the most beautiful wine cellars of Etna.

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A Big Thank You to
Patrizia and Simona

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Love Sarah x


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