UNCORK SICILY EAST
September 21 – 28, 2019
NYC Sommelier, Christopher Dispensa
Sicily Sommelier, Mariella Ferrara
Join us and immerse yourself in this experience for the senses! Let us tell you a story about Sicily, a place that is both fascinatingly otherworldly and vibrantly alive, a continent on an island. From the vantage point of Mount Etna and the east, we will experience the great mosaic of Sicily's history and its people through its wine. You’ll meet winemakers and enologists, experience tastings in a variety of ways, see gorgeous panoramas and visit historical sights.
Here, on the ancient volcano, is where everything began, inspiring myth and legend, and where wine and food have always been a protagonist. Here in the east, the earliest colonists arrived and everyone since has left their imprint. We will taste the fruits of the land, from rustic to refined and experience first had the layers and complexity.
We will hear the stories and learn about the historical evolution and wine revolution. Sicily is a land of micro-climates and we will experience different terrains, so close and yet so far apart from one another. You’ll leave with a well-rounded understanding, knowing how nature, history, stories, and passion converge into a metaphor for life in the microcosm that is Sicily.
This tour is for wine enthusiasts, fun loving curious travelers, and those interested in unique experiences.
Participation is limited.
From the beginning of time people have coveted the island of Sicily.
Come with us to find out why.
Day 1, September 21
Morning arrival into Catania’s Fontanarossa Airport
Transfer to our hotel on the slopes of Mount Etna, stopping on the way to stretch our legs at one of Etna’s most historic wineries in its vineyards and old ‘palmento.’
Settle in and relax.
Dinner will follow, with our sommeliers, in the restaurant where local winemakers often congregate. The owner is welcoming and has a wonderful private cellar.
We’ll enjoy an introduction to the wines of Sicily and Mount Etna’s renaissance.
Welcome wine lunch and dinner
Day 2, September 22
This day will include visits to Mount Etna’s influential winemakers who will share their experiences from years of winemaking, with an eye to all natural and organic ways. Their deep respect for the terroir informs everything they do, with an eye to a volatile volcano watching over their every action. Today’s visits will offer a varied look at approaches to winemaking and the results.
Lunch will be at a winery, possibly the most meticulously kept on Etna. On our travels today, you will be able to taste what a difference a little lava can make.
In between, we will visit the medieval town of Randazzo, where a master musician and musicologist will demonstrate the historic instruments he builds. It will be a heady day of philosophy and passion in the presence of yet another influential person in his field.
Dinner will be at a winery run by a brother and sister, and their female enologist. All part of the new age.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 3, September 23
Early this morning, we will head to the craters of Mount Etna. We will walk along the rims of the ancient eruptions with our scientist guide and enjoy majestic views. We will learn, up close, what it is that makes the area’s land so fertile. Seeing old flows and lava caves, suddenly you will begin to understand why Etna is both feared and revered.
Lunch will be at another historic property, the family of which was instrumental in bringing respect to Sicilian winemaking. Here we will eat and enjoy a special vertical tasting of Etna Rosso wines.
We will enjoy a little free time in the afternoon and enjoy a new restaurant in town for dinner where you will eat some fine grilled meats paired with some hearty wines.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 4, September 24
Check out of the hotel and we’ll drive to visit beautiful Taormina, with its stunning panoramas and exceptional Greek Theater. You’ll have a little time on your own to explore the town, among the most written about in Sicily’s history. There are high quality shops for typical Sicilian ceramics, Italian linens, and more.
You will depart the Etna-centric area and drive to Catania, Sicily’s second largest city, a city that is experiencing a food renaissance at this very moment.
Check into the hotel. We will enjoy a group dinner at one of the talked about restaurants in town.
Breakfast and dinner
Today we will drive to the interior to visit Giuseppe, a man who is dedicated to organic farming, ancient grains, and the raising of free-range animals. This very special visit will give us delicious insights. We will tour the facility and learn about this particular type of farming, with another passionate Sicilian. We’ll choose our vegetables from the garden, taste fresh, warm, ricotta, made especially for us, and enjoy a lunch that couldn’t be fresher. Arranged especially for us will be a visit by a winemaker from a top winery in the south, who will lead us through his exceptional product line while we eat. It will serve as a good examination of the southeastern wine potential and enable you to sample new flavors.
We will return to the hotel in Catania. You will have some free time and dinner will be on your own.
Breakfast and lunch
We will drive south about an hour to reach Sicily’s Baroque capital, Noto. Here we will take a guided walk of the town, stopping for sweets at Caffe Sicilia (owner Corrado Assenza was recently featured on Netflix’s Emmy nominated series, “Chef’s Table”).
For lunch we will visit a nearby winery run by women. At this rustic spot, we will be able to taste the latest hot thing, late harvest Nero d’Avola.
From here it’s on to visit Siracusa’s historical center, Ortigia. Our guide will show us the main sights, including the Cathedral, the ultimate re-cycled building, and the beauty of its Baroque and medieval architecture.
Back in Catania we will go from rustic to refined and join our sommelier for a wine paired dinner at an upscale restaurant. Here we can taste some of Sicily’s sparkling and dessert wines.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
On our final day, we will head to Piazza Armerina where we will meet our guide to visit the stunning Villa Romana del Casale. A 4th century Roman hunting villa, this UNESCO site has some of the world’s best examples of Roman mosaics anywhere, very well preserved, having been buried for centuries. Our wonderful guide will bring the history of the time and the ancient resident family to life.
Lunch will be at a restaurant known for its refined gastronomy and warm atmosphere, for providing some of the best creative and contemporary food in Sicily, while keeping it authentic. It has a excellent regional wine offerings from which we will benefit.
In the afternoon, we will visit the small museum in Aidone, with contents from one of the largest of the early Greek settlements. Our guide will share some incredible stories about certain pieces in the museum.
Back in Catania, our final dinner will be in a large and popular enoteca, decorated with wine. Here you will have a chance to talk about your trip, your favorite wines and approaches to winemaking. You will leave with a greater understanding of how Sicilian wine has evolved, the important people who helped it along, and information about the wines you tasted and where they can be purchased at home.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 8, September 28
Depart for Catania’s airport for morning flights.
“There is more philosophy in a bottle of wine than in all the books in the world.”
This tour is accompanied by two certified sommeliers, both delightful and fun. Space is limited to ensure an intimate group.
The tour includes:
7 Nights in four-star hotels
6 Lunches, 6 Dinners with wine*
Private van transportation
Guided tours of historic sights
*And the Wine:
Meet winemakers making varied styles of wine and with varied philosophies
Meet old families, the new generation, relative newcomers to Sicily and women in wine.
Experience a vertical tasting, explore late harvest, natural wines, sparkling, and dessert wines, single varietals and blends, historic grapes and recent plantings
Visit to an Organic Farm and special tour, lunch and presentation
Sommelier Chris will accompany the trip
Sommelier Mariella will be with the group at certain times
Exceptional Guides for historic visits
Entrance fees on guided tours
Meals and anything not specified in the itinerary
Cost per person in a double room: $3595
Single Supplement: $450
Itinerary subject to minor changes based on availability or other unforeseen circumstances. Any substitutions would be of similar style and quality.
For additional information and registration, please contact:
Karen La Rosa
Some Reading Suggestions to Prepare for Your Trip
These are books that will give you a sense of the island’s particular history and culture. For a longer list of books and also films, please visit: http://larosaworks.com/sicily_tours_reading_list.php
Seeking Sicily: A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality
Like many before him, this travel writer fell in love with Sicily. Despite his non-Sicilian heritage, he repeatedly hits the nail on the head in this recent contribution to the library about Sicily. His observations and insights are terrific, and so much so, that he has been asked to write a second book about the smaller towns in Sicily. I am proud to have helped direct him to many of Sicily’s smaller treasures.
The Peoples of Sicily
Louis Mendola and Jackie Alio
This book is packed with information about Sicily, its history, culture, traditions, and legacies. It is comprehensive, yet accessible and enjoyable. Well written by two authoritative voices.
The Stone Boudoir: In search of the hidden villages of Sicily
A captivating personal journey through towns and settlements. Maggio’s portrait of Sicilians is insightful and full of intimacy and warmth. Her descriptions of festivities and traditions, scenery and beauty are evocative and compelling.
A fun romp through the vineyards of Sicily, this writer interviews many of the winemakers who have been instrumental in bringing Sicilian wine to the forefront of winemaking.
The Vine Whisperer
This winemaker owns his family estate but only because he fought for it when local “undesirables” wanted his land. A tale of courage and heartwarming passion, with local wine as a backdrop. B & N carries the book.