Tenuta delle Terre Nere
Marco di Grazia of the Sicilian Tenuta delle Terre Nere, or "Estate of the Black Lands", has worked with top wines almost all his life and is not only a winemaker, but also a wine merchant. In the 1990s, Marco di Grazia worked with Barolo, significantly influencing the region's rise to world fame. When Marco traveled around Sicily in the early 2000s, he fell in love at first sight with the volcanic Etna region, its unique terroir, and the passionate farmers who have tirelessly worked with the region's native varieties. He saw a new Burgundy in the region, although instead of Pinot Noir, the region cultivates grape varieties still unknown to the mainstream, such as Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Carricante and Minella.
Tenuta delle Terre Nere's estates are located on the slopes of Etna's north side, in the area between the village of Solicchiata and the town of Randazzo. The climate of northern Etna is significantly different from the rest of Sicily: hot and dry summers and wet, cold winters are more reminiscent of the climate of northern Italy. Tulivuori's rainfall is five times that of the rest of Sicily, which is why the western slope of Etna in particular is an area impossible for wine growing. The vineyards of the winery are located at a rare altitude, about 600-1000 meters above sea level. The conditions, with significant temperature fluctuations, are the most suitable for viticulture: although the sun shines during the day, the nights are cool. In addition, the gentle winds blowing from the Mediterranean Sea lower the temperatures of summer evenings significantly. The mineral-rich soil of the area consists of many types of volcanic soil, such as basalt rock, ash and volcanic sand. As a result of environmental factors and skillful winemaking, rarely sophisticated and diverse wines are produced, so the comparison to Burgundy is understandable.
Like many quality wine regions, Etna also uses cru classifications. Tenuta delle Terre Nere's estates cover 50 hectares, divided into 39 different plots with seven different crus, i.e. a limited area sharing the same terroir. These crus are Calderara Sottana, Santo Spirito, Guardiola, Moganazzi, San Lorenzo, Feudo di Mezzo and Bocca d'Orzo. Each cru has its own identity and Tenuta delle Terre Nere is one of the first producers who really started investing in nurturing the characteristics of each cru. In 2012, the Italian Ministry of Agriculture formalized the division of these sub-regions. From these plots, Marco de Grazia makes 50 different vinifications of Nerello Mascalese and 20 of Carricante.
Tenuta delle Terre Nere works in its nurseries cherishing nature. The actual operation of the farm started in 2002. The specialty of the farm is Prephylloxera Etna Rosso made from ungrafted vines, whose vines are 100-140 years old. The vines planted before the wine aphid's conquest of Europe produce an extremely elegant, multidimensional wine with a long aging potential. Marco de Grazia's ideology does not include bringing anything of his own into his wines, but encourages his orchards to produce grapes that, after being used as wine, express their origin. According to him, wine is also not made from the best possible grapes, but rather from the best aspects of the grapes, which are determined by the winemaker to make choices during winemaking.
Solar panels have just been installed on the roof of the farm's buildings to make the farm's energy production as self-sufficient as possible. The estate was just selected for Wine & Spirits Magazine's Top 100 Wineries of 2022 list. The farm's total annual production is around 260,000 bottles.