Since its inception in 1985 the Planeta winery has in a relatively short space of time established itself as one of the most dynamic and quality orientated wineries in the whole of Italy. The fact that the estate is based in the south west corner of Sicily ? an island which for so long has been a quality winemaking backwater ? makes the achievement all the more remarkable. Run by cousins Francesca, Alessio and Santi Planeta the estate won the coveted Cantina dell?Anno (Italian winery of the year award) in 1999 and has gone from strength to strength in the intervening years.Planeta is not just one winery, but many. The exhilarating journey begins at Sambuca di Sicilia, on an estate the Planeta family has owned since the 1600s. Here, three enthusiastic young Sicilians ? Alessio, Francesca and Santi Planeta ? began their winemaking venture in the mid-1980s. The trio spent subsequent years matching the extraordinarily diverse Sicilian soils with both indigenous and international grape varieties. The result? A family of critically-acclaimed wines that demonstrate how brilliance can be attained through the thoughtful marriage between grape variety and terroir. Today the company has vineyards and estates all over the island of Sicily including- the Ulmo contrada and vineyards in Sambuca di Sicilia (their first winemaking facility and beautiful ancestral family home, located on the Arancio Lake); the Dispensa base in Menfi (where their high end olive oils are also made nearby at the Capparina mill); the lovely Dorilli estate in Vittoria; the Buonivini vineyards and underground winery near the Baroque town of Noto; and the newest estate- Sciara Nuova in the fashionable and exciting fine wine region of volcanic Mount Etna. The groundbreaking winemaker of Planeta was the mythical Carlo Corino, who sadly passed away recently. Planeta gained much prestige and respect for being innovators when it came to matching local soil types to both native Sicilian wine varietals and international grapes. Daring and open-minded winemaking (in a Mediterranean island that had become known for easygoing bulk wine) combined with the fabulous local terroirs, were a recipe for success for pioneering Planeta. Perhaps their first flagship wine to really shake up the wine world was their stunning Chardonnay. Not just any chardonnay, this blockbuster astounded critics and wine lovers the world over and still receives annual awards and recognition. Planeta are in fact regularly lauded in the wine press and this year they receive an unprecedented eight Tre Bicchieri awards from the Gambero Rosso (called the Italian wine bible, definitely the definitive guide alongside Veronelli).