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Italy, Sicily: a generational change

To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily
is not to have seen Italy at all.
Sicily is the clue for everything

The person to paint Goethe’s words on his winery wall was Donnafugata founder Giacomo Rallo. This essay is dedicated to his memory. At 79-years-old, he died of a sudden heart attack while getting dressed for work at his Marsala home on May 10, 2016. In an obituary published in the leading Italian daily, one of my colleagues wrote that Mr. Rallo dedicated his life to proving Goethe right. As I reflect on the life of this transformative leader in Sicilian wine, I am convinced he succeeded in his mission.

He was a father figure to me during my years of professional growth. Similarly, he was a source of guidance and inspiration for every Sicilian winemaker in my age group from Pantelleria to Messina. I remember his broad smile when I first met him sixteen years ago sitting next to his wife Gabriella during a press event to promote the Donnafugata night harvest. I last chatted with him less than a year ago, under the shade of giant olive tree before a complete vertical tasting of his celebrated Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé. Knowing that I love hand-painted Sicilian tiles, he nudged me away to show me his latest ceramic acquisitions. Mr. Rallo showed unparalleled energy and enthusiasm up until his last day of life.

Monica Larner
The Wine Advocate

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