Vineyard of Nerello Mascalese on Etna Volcano in Sicily

It is a Volcano by the sea, it is an island within an island. This is Etna!
The climate affects the cultivation of vines not only for the temperatures but also for the rains. To the east of the Volcano it rains more than it does to the west. In Sicily there are substantial climatic differences, not only compared to the rest of the region, but also between one area and another of the Volcano. This is due to the fact that it develops on a truncated cone surface and near the sea. The particular geographical position of Etna profoundly influences the climate, in the different sides, through two factors: the altitude and the exposure. These, correlated with each other, give rise to different microclimates and therefore to different micro-zones more or less suitable for the cultivation of vines, even within the same side of the Volcano.
In the Etna area there are represented, within a few tens of kilometers, naturalistic and agricultural landscapes ranging from sub-tropical to purely mountainous ones.
The human effort, in the selection he carried out on the plants destined for cultivation, had to take into account the particularity of the Etna environments. In fact, the vines selected (autochthonous) by the winemaker over the centuries for the different environments of Etna. The climate of the Etna area, in addition to being different from the Sicilian one, also changes in relation to the slope of the Volcano and the altitude. In the area involved in viticulture, average temperatures are lower than those of the island. The minimum temperatures, especially in the north side, in winter and also in the period of the beginning of bud break often drop below zero and the maximum temperatures in summer are almost never high. That is why Etna’s climate makes Nerello Mascalese so valuable.

Nerello Mascalese Wineyard

Particularly interesting, from the oenological point of view, is the high temperature difference (thermal excursions of up to 30 °) that is recorded in the spring-summer period. Another substantial difference with respect to the rest of Sicily is in the case of rainfall: they depend on the slope and are much higher in the east of the volcano than in the north and south. The rains, practically absent in summer, are mostly distributed in the autumn-winter period and often in conjunction with the harvest period: this in some years and for certain areas can be a limiting factor in the ripeness and health of the grapes. The vineyards, however, cope with these circumstances without problem since the volcanic soil is very draining. But the amount of minerals absorbed and, consequently, the taste of each product also depends on the amount of rain received.

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