Winery and Vineyards

On Pantelleria, a volcanic island located between Sicily and Africa, Donnafugata boasts 68 hectares (168 acres) of vineyards spread over 14 districts, which differ in terms of soil, altitude, exposure, microclimatic conditions and age of plants, which are sometimes more than 100 years old. The vine variety is Zibibbo (Moscato d’Alessandria), a prince among the aromatic varieties. The vines are trained to a very low bush, shaped by the wind, on small terraces bordered by dry-built lava stone walls. A context of heroic viticulture that requires a great deal of manual labour, about three times that employed in the Contessa Entellina vineyards.
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Karuscia

Soil: sandy of volcanic origin (pH 6.3)
Total limestone: 14%
Altitude: 60 m (196 ft) a.s.l.
Exposure of terraces: North/North East

Khamma

Soil: sandy of volcanic origin (pH 6.3)
Total limestone: 14%
Altitude: 130-200 (426- 656 ft) m a.s.l..
Exposure of terraces: North East

Punta Karace

Soil: rocky and sandy of volcanic origin (pH 7)
Total limestone: 14%
Altitude: 130-200 (426- 656 ft) m a.s.l.
Exposure of terraces: North East

Favarotta

Soil: sabbioso di origine vulcanica (pH 6,3)
Total limestone: 13%
Altitude: 180 m (260 ft) a.s.l.
Exposure of terraces: North

Tracino

Soil: sandy of volcanic origin (pH 6.3)
Total limestone: 14%
Altitude: 130 m (426 ft) a.s.l.
Exposure of terraces: East

Mueggen

Soil: sandy of volcanic origin (pH 6.3)
Total limestone: 14%
Altitude: 200-330 m (656- 1082 ft) a.s.l.
Exposure of terraces: East

Ghirlanda

Soil: sandy of volcanic origin (pH 5.9)
Calcare totale: 13%
Altitude: 160 m (524 ft) a.s.l.
Exposure of terraces: flatland

Serraglia

Soil: sandy of volcanic origin (pH 5.9)
Total limestone: 13%
Altitude: 180 m (590 ft) a.s.l.
Exposure of terraces: East

Gibbiuna

Soil: sandy of volcanic origin (pH 6)
Total limestone: 8%
Altitude: 290 m (951 ft) a.s.l.
Exposure of terraces: East

Barone

Soil: sandy of volcanic origin (pH 6)
Total limestone: 8%
Altitude: 340 m (1115 ft) a.s.
Exposure of terraces: East

Martingana

Soil: sandy of volcanic origin (pH 6.9)
Total limestone: 8%
Altitude: 30-60 m (98- 196 ft) a.s.l.
Exposure of terraces: South

Monastero

Soil: sandy of volcanic origin (pH 6.6)
Total limestone: 14%
Altitude: 210 m s.l.m.
Exposure of terraces: North West

Bukkuram

Soil: sandy of volcanic origin (pH 6.7)
Total limestone: 14%
Altitude: 175 m (574 ft) a.s.l.
Exposure of terraces: North West

Bugeber

Soil: sandy of volcanic origin (pH 6.3)
Total limestone: 14%
Altitude: 100 m (328) a.s.l.
Exposure of terraces: North West
The rhythms of the countryside

The rhythms of the countryside

TOTAL VINEYARD IN PRODUCTION
68 ha (168 acres))

LOCATION
Sicilian Channel, longitude: 11.7° east; latitude: 36.5° north.

SOIL
Altitude From 20 to 400 meters (65 to 1,312 ft).Orography complex, typically volcanic, soils mainly cultivated on terraced slopes. Soils are sandy, originating from lava, varying between sub-acidic and neutral (pH from 6.5 to 7). Deep and extremely fertile soils, well endowed with mineral.

CLIMATE
Mild, dry winters (450 mm precipitation per year). Windy summers. The wind is an important climatic factor in determining the quality of the grapes on the vine and on the racks. It acts as a “natural anti-cryptogam”. In some areas an unusually windy year can substantially reduce production.

THE VINEYARDS
The vines are cultivated by hand each planted in a basin and trained in low broad bush system (alberello pantesco), inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, with 2 to 4 arms. Age of the vines over 100 years. Planting density is 2,500 to 3,600 per hectare (1,011 – 1,450 an acre) with a production of grapes 4.0 – 6.0 tons per hectare (1.62 to 2.4 tons an acre); 1.6 – up to 2.0 kilos of grape per vine.

PRUNING SYSTEM
Typically very short. Each of the arms of the vines carries 1 or 2 spurs with 1 to 2 buds each. The number of buds per vine averages between 6 and 10.

THE HARVEST
The harvest in the various districts on the island begins in mid-August. The best clusters are selected and laid down in the sun for drying. The picking of all the grapes to be used in making “Kabir” (Moscato) and “Ben Ryé” (Passito) begins in September. To produce the Lighea, the best grapes in terms of ripening and aromatic potential are harvested in late August.

 

Craftsmanship

ALBERELLO PANTESCO

The vine is cultivated in hollows. The training system makes the plant growalmost creeping along the ground, allowing it to withstand the wind on the island. The alberello pantesco (bush-trained vine), has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage as a “highly sustainable and creative agricultural practice”.

BEN RYE’

Symbol of this heroic viticulture is the Ben Ryé Passito di Pantelleria, Donnafugata’s iconic wine. It is made using a production process based on natural raisining of fresh grapes laid out on racks, manual stripping of dried grapes from the stems and a carefully tailored vinification process.

DRY STONE WALL

More labour is needed to maintain the dry stone walls. Indeed, Donnafugata has restored about 20 km of them over the last 25 years, making a considerable contribution to protecting the landscape.

Khamma winery

Khamma winery

Donnafugata’s winery is located in the Khamma district, in a natural amphitheatre composed of 13 hectares of terraces rising towards Mount Gibele. A prime example of sustainable architecture, it was built with full respect for the landscape of the island. The winery consists of two units: one used for vinification, covered with hand cut lava stone, and one that serves as a receiving area. In the Khamma winery, individual lots of grapes are processed separately until the final blending stage is reached to respect and enhance the various viticultural contexts. Ben Ryé, Kabir and Lighea are made here

Autochthonous grape varieties

Zibibbo (Muscat of Alexandria)

Originally from North Africa, it successively spread around the Mediterranean basin. Object of intense cultivation in the territories conquered by the Arabs as a table grape and for drying. The name Zibibbo comes from the Arabic “Zibibb” which means dried grape. Hundreds of years ago this grape variety was brought to Pantelleria by the Arabs. In the hot, dry and windy climate of this island of volcanic origin, Zibibbo, alberello- trained, finds the ideal conditions for concentrating a treasure trove of sugars and developing an array of olfactory notes that are incomparable. It is also used to produce aromatic dry wines.

Vintage charts Pantelleria

2016

2016 was a vintage with little rainfall, but not overly hot.

To compensate for the low rainfall and help the vineyards reach optimal vegetation-production balance, more than 30% cluster thinning was performed.

This allowed us to produce healthy and well-ripened grapes in line with the qualitative objectives of the winery.

On Pantelleria, the Zibibbo harvest started August 17 at the district of Punta Kharace, the 20th at Karuscia, the 21st at Bukkaram, the 23rd at Bugeber, the 24 at Khamma, the 27th at Favarotta, the 28th at Tracino and Monastero. The harvest continued in the districts of Ghirlanda, Serraglie, Gibbiuna, Mueggen and was concluded on September 15th at Barone.

“To compensate for scarce rainfall during the year – says Antonio Rallo, winemaker for the family business – and to help the vineyards reach optimal vegetation-production balance, we carried out some rescue irrigation; no less important was the cluster thinning performed on the more productive varieties, on Pantelleria; on the island of sun and wind, in contrada Khamma, more than 30% cluster thinning was performed to bring home healthy and well-ripened grapes”.

 

2015

The climatic trend recorded for the 2015 vintage was fairly normal, with rainfall in line with the average of the last 3 years (501 mm vs 498.9 mm).

Overall, the vintage was very positive, with the quantity and quality of the grapes harvested in line with the company’s objectives.

A great vintage that will give perfumed and fruity wines, with excellent elegance and aging potential.

The harvest was very positive on Pantelleria where Donnafugata cultivates Zibibbo on about 68 hectares of vineyards. The harvested quantity on the island of sun and wind is in line with the winery qualitative objectives.

In Pantelleria the harvest started the 17th of August in Martingana vineyards and then continued in Punta Karace, Tracino, Bugeber, Bukkuram, Favarotta, Khamma, Ghirlanda, Gibbiuna, Mueggen, Monastero. The harvest of Zibibbo ended on the 24th of September in the district of Barone.

2014

The climatic trend recorded for the 2014 vintage was fairly normal, with slightly less rainfall (488 mm) than (516 mm) the 2013 vintage.

Average temperatures were lower, with a stable climate. The harvest of the grapes for the production of Kabir began on 9th September. An important harvest, with healthy and perfectly ripe grapes with a rich and very complex aromatic profile.

From the agronomic and viticultural point of view, the climatic trend favored the budburst and flowering of the Zibibbo plants in the months of April and May.

Unlike last year, during this last harvest there was no damage caused by the sirocco: in fact, blowing during flowering, this wind can determine a lower production especially in some districts.

Topping the vines in June encouraged the growth of new leaves, physiologically active during the next phase of the ripening of the grapes.

Veraison happened in July.

The Donnafugata vineyards on Pantelleria – a total area of 68 hectares distributed over the whole island – are anexample of heroic viticulture, characterized by terraces, dry stone walls and lots of manual labor. In theKhamma cellar the individual lots of Zibibbo were processed separately, enhancing the distinctiveness of these viticultural contexts. The harvest began in the district of Martingana and continued in the other districts ofBukkuram, Khamma, Favarotta and Bugeber (a bit higher up and mostly exposed to the east) with the harvest of the grapes forwithering and those destined for the must for the production of Ben Ryé, the pluri-decorated Passito di Pantelleria.

In September we harvested in the Barone vineyards (district located in the hinterland of the island, with a particularly high elevation above sea level, facing east), where the grapes from the younger vineyards are used for the production of Lighea, Donnafugata’s dry Zibibbo, while the grapes from the historical vineyards (50-60 years old) constitute the base of the sweet wines, Kabir (Moscato di Pantelleria) and Ben Ryé.

The harvest concluded in the last week of September in the Mueggen, Gibbiuna and Ghirlanda districts (cooler and later) with the picking of the grapes destined for Lighea.

2013

On Pantelleria 2013 was a vintage with slightly more rainfall than in previous years, with temperatures in line with the average of recent years.

The wide temperature range between day and night enhanced the aromatic richness of the Zibibbo.

Pantelleria- 2013 was a vintage with slightly more rainfall than the previous years, with temperatures in linewith the average of recent years and extreme temperature variations between day and night that enhance the aromatic richness of Zibibbo, the main variety cultivated on the island.

The temperature differences favored the vegetative-productive balance of the plants and the transfer to the clusters of what the leaves photosynthesized during the day.

From October 1, 2012 to October 1, 2013 rainfall reached about 506.8 mm (source “Regione Siciliana – SIAS – Servizio Informativo Agrometeorologico Siciliano”), a value that is slightly higher than in previous years (450 mm).

There were normal climatic conditions during the most important moments of the vintage: the springtime wind partly interfered with the phases of budburst and flowering in the months of April and May, while in July there was a normal veraison, preceded by a topping in June to encourage the growth of new leaves, physiologically active in the last stages of ripening.

The vineyards of Donnafugata are a fine example of heroic viticulture characterized by terraces and lava stone walls. The vineyards located in 12 districts differ in soil, altitude, exposure, vine age (even more than 100 years old) and ripening period. In the Khamma cellar the individual lots of Zibibbo are processed separately, enhancing the plurality of the viticultural contexts.

At Donnafugata the Zibibbo harvest began on August 17 in Martingana and Punta Karace, the early districts,with the picking of the best clusters intended for withering. It continues in the districts of Bukkuram, Khamma, Favarotta and Bugeber (a bit higher up and mostly exposed to the east) with the harvest of the grapes for withering and those intended for the must for the production of the passito Ben Ryé.

In September it continues with Barone (further inland, high up and facing east) where the grapes from younger plantations will be used for the dry Zibibbo Lighea while the grapes from older plantations (50-60 years old) will be the base for the sweet wines Kabir and Ben Ryé.

The harvest concluded on September 15 in the Mueggen, Gibbiuna and Ghirlanda districts (higher up and inland)with the picking of the grapes intended for Lighea and Kabir.

Overall, a less productive vintage, due to the wind in spring, but with healthy and ripe grapes, characterized byaromatic richness, the premise of perfumed and fragrant wines.

2012

2012 was characterized by a somewhat drier summer even if considered an average vintage climate-wise. The harvest of the grapes started on August 17th.

Good temperature excursions allowed to obtain a fine and elegant aromatic concentration of the Zibibbo grapes.

The harvest on Pantelleria: Donnafugata cultivates vineyards in 12 district of the island differing in altitude, exposure and vine age and therefore in harvesting periods.

Picking began on August 17 for the grapes that would be dried and ended on September 24.Overall, the big temperature ranges between day and night helped enhance the aromas of the Zibibbo (or Moscato d’Alessandria), the main variety grown on Pantelleria’s volcanic soil.

2011

Vintage 2011 in Pantelleria was characterized by a long summer; the harvest of the grapes started on August 17th and ended on September 19th.

Climatic conditions allowed to obtain healthy grapes, with a great aromatic intensity.

On of the island of Pantelleria, Donnafugata’s vineyards are located in 11 different districts (contrade), being an important example of heroic viticulture on its terraced slopes.

The long summer, with temperatures not excessively high, allowed an excellent concentration in aromas and sugars, thus obtaining ideal grapes for the passito production.
Here Zibibbo harvest begun on August 17th and ended on September 19th. The collection of grapes on Pantelleria is generally well-structured, even concerning one single variety: 11 productive contexts (various districts all around the island), with different pedoclimatic conditions and grapes that, consequently, reach their ripening within the space of various weeks.

The grapes collected in the different vineyards are destined, partially to the withering and, partially, to produce fresh Zibibbo must.

After all, a wine like Ben Ryè totally reflects this complexity of contributions that, just in this natural Passito, finds its best expression.

2010

The 2010 harvest was very favorable in Pantelleria, the volcanic island on the sun and wind.

Compared to the average, the vintage was a bit more “fresh” thus permitting to obtain a very refined aroma.

On Pantelleria Donnafugata’s vineyards are located in 11 different areas (contrade) of the island and are an important example of heroic viticulture.

Here the Zibibbo harvest began on August 18 at the Martingana vineyards, traditionally the first to ripen, and ended on September 19 at the Ghirlanda.

On Pantelleria, too, the year was less productive, especially at the vineyards hit by strong winds at blossom time.
Both on Pantelleria and at the Contessa Entellina estate isolated September showers brought no vine diseases or particular problems with grape ripening.

Overall, the grapes were harvested in amounts somewhat smaller than recent-year averages; for vinification purposes quality was very good to excellent.

The whites wines are crisp, with aromatic finesse; the reds have good structure and balance; the Passito di Pantelleria will be especially rich and complex.

 

2009

The harvest began on August 26 and ended on September 19.

In general, good differences in temperature between day and night helped enhance the aromatic range of the Zibibbo grapes, which are grown on volcanic soil and trained in a low bush form, on terraced hillsides; an extraordinary example of heroic viticulture.

Satisfaction was great on Pantelleria, where the Donnafugata vineyards in 11 different parts of the island are important examples of heroic viticulture.

Here the Zibibbo harvest began on August 12, picking the grapes in a few small vineyards, and went into full swing from August 17 on. The harvest terminated on September 19.

In general, good temperature changes between day and night helped enhance the fragrances of the Zibibbo, which is grown shrub-style on volcanic soil. Just over a month ago fermentations ended for the Ben Ryé production process and early tastings show the great harmony and elegance towards which this sweet wine is projected.

2008

Regular weather conditions; excellent harvest,started on August 17th and continued until September 20th according to the times of maturation in the different districts of the island.

The good temperature ranges contributed to enhance the aromatic quality of Zibibbo.

The outcome was excellent on Pantelleria, too, where Donnafugata has vineyards in 11 different areas of the island, mostly terraced and fine examples of heroic viticulture.

Here the harvest began on August 17 and continued until September 20, according to grape ripeness in the various areas.

In fact, while the island is relatively small, Pantelleria has viticultural contexts that differ in terms of altitude, exposure, soil, vineyard age (some are over a hundred years old) and microclimate, so a multiplicity of factors are involved in the outstanding complexity found in the wines.
In general, big differences in temperature between day and night helped enhance the wealth of aromas in the Zibibbo grapes whose vines are grown in a low bush-form on volcanic soil and protected by drywalls.

The grapes were dried in the traditional way, in the sun and wind, for about three weeks. When the optimal level of dehydration was reached the dried grapes were added to the fermenting must – from non-dried grapes – to produce Ben Ryé Passito.

The 2008 harvest can definitely be given the 5-star rating that this territory so well deserves.

2007

The 2007 vintage on Pantelleria saw rainfall below the average of recent years.

In addition, due to a few days of Scirocco in April, during flowering, productivity was below average. The harvest began on 17 August in the early-ripening districts on the island and concluded on 15 September, giving rise to wines with good body and excellent aromatic finesse.

Temperatures were recorded at the usual seasonal values with maximum points registered at the end of June, the second half of July and in the final week of August as in other parts of Sicily. Except in the days when the sirocco was blowing, variations between day and night temperatures had positive effects on the performance of the cycle of vegetation in the vineyards and on the sensory quality of the grapes.

The maturation of the Zibibbo grapes began with a delay of a few days in comparison with the typical Pantelleria vintage. Harvesting began on August 17 in the most precocious areas on the island and ended on September 15.

In this vintage, the productivity of the vineyards was inferior to the average of recent years. The decline was due in particular to the sirocco, which swept over the island in April when the vines were flowering.

The level of quality of the grapes harvested on Pantelleria was high, in keeping with the standard that Sicily offers with great consistency.

Final judgment: with the 2007 harvest the estate will be able to offer wines with good bodies, excellent aromatic finesse and pronounced elegance in the fullness of the Donnafugata style.

2006

Donnafugata began the 2006 grape harvest on the island of Pantelleria on August 17th.

On Pantelleria, vineyards are located in 11 different areas and this year Donnafugata inaugurated a new vinification cellar in the Khamma contrada. Harvesting began in the Punta Karace, Arco dell’Elefante and Martingana vineyards. These areas are typically mature earlier than those in other parts of the island.

Thanks to big differences in day and night temperatures on the island of Pantelleria, Zibibbo possesses an exceptional aromatic charge.

2005

On Pantelleria, Zibibbo harvesting began on August 16 in the zones of earlier ripening, like “Martingana” and “Dietro l’Isola”.

Despite some rainfall early in September, alcohol content is good and aromas are full and intense.
There are all the premises for an excellent year featuring elegance.

2004

Both at Contessa Entellina and on Pantelleria the season began late, with an especially rainy winter and spring and a summer with cooler than average temperatures.
Weather of this type delayed the growing cycle in the vineyard about 15 to 20 days, leading to slow and even ripening of the grapes.
This enhanced sugar-acid balance as well as aromatic maturation.
In general 2004 will be remembered for the elegance and finesse of its wines, rather than for power.

 

2003

After 3 years of drought, the 2002-2003 winter provided Sicily average rainfall for the island.
This enabled the soil to replenish water reserves, fundamental for the vineyard right from the first stages of development, such as budding and flowering, which took place in the best possible way.
This was an excellent year for Moscato Kabir and Passito Ben Ryé; structured wines with great sugar-acid balance and extraordinary aromatic content.
The 2003 wines will be admired for their “elegance.”

2002

This was a fairly dry year, with a hot but not overly hot summer.
To reach our preset qualitative results, both at Contessa Entellina and on Pantelleria, we had to thin out the vines, relinquishing 20% to 30% of the harvest.

This gave us wines with excellent concentration that retained their aromatic finesse.

2001

On Pantelleria, where the harvesting of Zibibbo concluded at the end of September, we had a truly fine year. The grapes were extraordinarily rich and concentrated from the standpoint of aroma and flavor. A wholly deserved five stars.

2000

A generally dry year. After mid-August there was a torrid week that sped up harvest time, especially for the red grapes. The year yielded structured wines; thinning out the grapes while still on the vine gave the wines elegance as well.

Rainfall data

Harvesting
RAINFALL (mm*)
Source
2016
293.5
SIAS
2015
501.8
SIAS
2014
488
SIAS
2013
506.8
SIAS
Media ** 447.53
* The rainfall data for each vintage are calculated from 1 October to 30 September of the following year
** The average is calculated starting from the 2003 harvest 2013