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Donnafugata

Donnafugata was established by Giacomo Rallo and his wife Gabriella in 1983 in Marsala in the province of Trapani in the westernmost part of the island of Sicily. The family have indeed been making wine there since 1851. Giacomo is the fourth generation of a winemakers, and Donnafugata was established to produce high quality table wine when sales of traditional Marsala wine began to decline. Now his sons, Josè and Antonio lead the company and represent the fifth generation of the family. The name Donnafugata refers to the name of a fictional town in Tomasi di Lampedusa's famous novel “Il Gattpardo” [The Leopard], based on his favourite residence, the Santa Margherita Belice Palace. “Donna in fuga” translates to “fleeing woman”. Queen Maria Carolina, fleeing Naples on the arrival of Napoleon's troops, found refuge at this Palace which is in the area where Donnafugata's vineyards are located. This inspired the company's logo, the image of a woman's head with windblown hair, and this can be seen on their bottles. All their labels are stunningly artistic. Four different estates are farmed sustainably, with an altogether incredible 24 different grape varieties under vine, featuring both indigenous and international varieties. The 285 hectare Contessa Entellina Estate in southwestern Sicily is divided into 8 zones where 19 grape varieties are grown: Ansonica, Grecanico, Grillo, Catarratto, Nero d'Avola and Nocera, Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot, Syrah, Alicante Bouchet, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot,Tannat, Fiano, Petit Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc. The 68 hectare Pantelleria Estate, on the island of the same name, is dived into 14 zones, planted with Zibibbo for the their passito wines. Some of the vines here are over 100 years old, and the wines are produced at their Khamma winery on the island. The 36 hectare Vittoria Estate in southeastern Sicily is planted with Nero d'Avola and Frappato for the production of Sicily's only DOCG wine, Cerasuolo di Vittoria. The 21 hectare Etna Estate is divided into 6 zones planted with Nerello Mascalese, Carricante and Nerello Cappuccio. Donnafugata's historic family cellars are in Marsala, built in 1851. Ageing of the wines can take place in stainless steel, cement or wood. They use French oak barriques or tonneaux and select around 20 different types of wood that differ in the grain of the staves, method and intensity of toasting. The wines age in in an underground cellar built in 2007, carved into the tufo rock. They were one of the first wineries in Italy to produce all of its electricity from solar energy. As you may imagine, Donnafugata produce an innovative and eclectic range of captivating wines. They were established to bring the potential of Sicilian wines to a worldwide audience, and they have certainly achieved this goal. Their wines represent some of the best Sicily has to offer.