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Pietradolce was established in 2005 by Michele Faro in Solicchiata, a hamlet in the province of Castiglione di Sicilia, on the northern slopes of Mount Etna. The Faro's own one of the largest plant nurseries on the island; Michele has a degree in agronomy. The family had a plot of wonderful 50 to 100 year old vines in the shadow of the active volcano. Michele's grandfather had been a small producer and Michele remembered the beautiful wines he made and their delicate aromas. This he attributes to the passion he feels for his own small independent winery. He was one of the principle producers to pioneer the resurgence of Etna wines. 11 hectares are under vine in three areas, two in the zone of Rampante, and one in Zottorinoto, planted at between 700 and 950 metres above sea level with a spread of mesoclimates where the cool climate affords a long growing season. The Etna soil is unlike other soil compositions on the island of Sicily. It is volcanic and the Pietradolce soils are rather stony with light, sandy loam and abundant mineral elements which imbue the wines with certain characteristics making them unique. They have somewhat sweet tannins and Pietradolce means “sweet stone” in Italian, a tribute to the soils and the volcano whose presence is everywhere. Dark volcanic rocks are even ground into the cement for the eco-friendly winery, and they make up the dry wall terraces where the vines are planted on the steep slopes of Etna. Even the stylish bottle labels honour Etna. One range symbolises the “woman-volcano”with an elegant and powerful image, and another captures the explosive energy of Etna with hand-drawn lines repeated over and over in a random manner. Pietradolce only cultivate grape varieties native to Etna, which means the red Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio and the white Carricante. If you are unfamiliar with these it is worthwhile making their acquaintance to experience the magic of Etna wines as there really is nothing quite like them. The grapes are mostly grown as traditional alberello low-yielding bush vines. Some of these are pre-phylloxera, 120 years of age, and the fruit from these gnarly old vines go for Pietradolce's Cru wines. The winery is underground, and here Pietradolce take a non-interventionist approach. New oak is eschewed in favour of steel tanks and older, larger barrels. Pietradolce handcraft a thrilling range of authentic mineral-driven wines with incredible richness, fragrance and depth – the very soul of Etna!