In 2000, it was on the slopes of Mount Etna, in Sicily, on the southern tip of Italy, that Andrea Franchetti, a Tuscan winemaker, set out on a crazy project: to restore an ancient, high-altitude farm, in order to recover its old vines. The Passopisciaro estate was thus born in 2000 on the Contrada Guardiola, above the village of Passopisciaro. The 26-hectare vineyard, bathed in sunshine at an altitude of 1000 metres, is planted in a soil that is not very favourable to the vine. The arid volcanic soil and the uneven ground, caused by the uneven lava flows on the most active volcano of Europe, make for a rather complicated but nevertheless exceptional viticulture.
Thanks to the unique microclimate of the volcano, some of the vines are believed to have survived the phylloxera epidemic, which ravaged European vineyards in the late 19th century. Expanding over a terrace along the northern slopes of Etna, some vines here are 130 years old. Because of the old average age of the vines, the youngest being 30 years old, as well as the rather extreme environment of the vineyard, no vine treatment is carried out, except sulfur dusting (used as a fungicide since ancient times) and orange peel to prevent the spread of fungus and disease.
A pioneer in the revival of the Etna wine region, Andrea Franchetti relies on the island's most emblematic grape variety: Nerello Mascalese. While the latter dominates the estate’s plantings, the Petit Verdot, Chardonnay and Cesaneso d'Affile also flourish on the steep slopes of Passopisciaro's property.
The wines of Passopiciaro are classified in the IGP Terre Siciliane appellation, since they cannot benefit from the DOC Etna classification, due to the altitude of the vineyards. The atypical conditions of these sandy lava soils make it possible to produce white, red and rosé wines of great elegance, wines expressing the typicity of this exceptional terroir.