Not only is Mt. Etna the tallest active volcano in Europe, it's also home to some of the most dynamic and interesting vineyards in the world. The Contrade are 132 Cru vineyards across the slopes of Mt. Etna that are designated by the geologic age of the lava flows they grow on. Situated at elevations from 600 – 2,500 ft above sea level, the age of the lava flows range from 4,000 – 40,000 years old. These complex vineyards are home to one of the most exciting winemaking regions in the world and Nerello Mascalese grown here creates some of the most compelling wines made in Italy today, rivaling Burgundy and Barolo in terms of finesse, elegance and structure.
Sicily is well known as a major source of Italian wine but until recently it was viewed as a producer of bulk wines or cheap everyday wines. With the revolution in quality that has taken place on the island in the past decade, that reputation has been turned on its head and Sicilian wines are being sought out by wine buyers and consumers - and none more so than the wines of Etna. The Tasca d'Almerita family, one of Sicily's oldest and most esteemed wine families, is a leading producer of Etna wines at its Tenuta Tascante estate (the name is a portmanteau of Tasca and Etna). The Tasca family entered the Etna denomination in 2007 with the purchase of two vineyards in the communes of Castiglione di Sicilia and Randazzo on the north face of the volcano. The northern exposure is a cool-climate area, which helps to retain acidity in the wines. The Tasca family currently owns four parcels, located in the contrade of Pianodario and Sciaranuova in Randazzo, and Rampante and Grasà in Castiglione. (A contrada is a small subdivision of a commune, based on various defining criteria such as elevation, cultural/historical significance, or past lava flows.) The vineyards are mostly at elevations of 2,450 to 2,600 feet on the 11,000-foot mountain. All are certified as sustainable under SOStain.