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Donnafugata’s nighttime harvest: ten years of a passion for quality

On August 6 at Contessa Entellina Agriculture Minister Luca Zaia will cut the first bunch of Chardonnay


Anniversaries are built through time, year after year, like vintages of a fine wine to be savored. Ten years of nighttime grape harvesting at Donnafugata have created an important legacy for a brand that in Sicily has redefined the concept of quality itself, from vineyard to cellar to communication.

Donnafugata’s harvest under the stars has helped the image of Sicily to grow, positioning it alongside wine regions with older traditions like Tuscany, Piedmont or Veneto, thanks to an outstanding ability to communicate wine through new languages and to innovate in tune with the latest market trends.

A philosophy, that of striving for quality and caring for details, that has placed Donnafugata among the leaders in the Italian wine renaissance due to their skill in giving a new interpretation to the territory’s great potential.

Since 1983 Donnafugata has been promoting an intelligent use of refrigeration technology to control temperature in the must fermentation stage. It later opted for cooling the grapes to 50° F to keep aromas from volatizing in the pressing stage.

In 1998 it experimented with picking the Chardonnay grapes at night to prevent risks of unwanted fermentation while transporting them from the vineyard to the cellar, at the same time getting a 70% energy savings on cooling prior to soft pressing. In fact, thanks to the big difference in temperature between day and night, the grapes are picked when the temperature is about 64° F rather than 86° F and above.

And to be more protective of the environment, Donnafugata decides to invest in producing clean energy. In 2002 it inaugurated its first photovoltaic installation at Contessa Entellina, and with completion of a new one by the end of this year it will be able to supply 70% of the energy needed for the vinification cellar. In 2007 it also installed solar panels on the roofs of its historic cellars in Marsala.

By choosing to capture sun-born aromas in the light of the moon, Donnafugata has given greater personality to two of its wines: La Fuga Chardonnay Contessa Entellina DOC and Chiarandà Contessa Entellina DOC, made from Chardonnay and Ansonica grapes (the latter picked by day in September).

There are excellent premises for the grape harvest at the family’s Contessa Entellina estate. Weather has been good, and typical for western Sicily: rainfall (17 inches from October 1, 2007 to July 31, 2008) and heavy temperature changes from day to night have enabled the vineyards to reach balanced vine/grape growth.

Grape picking is scheduled to begin on August 6: tonight (beginning after 10 p.m. and ending at early dawn) harvesting will concern some younger portions of Chardonnay that are further ahead in ripening.

It will also be the occasion for the traditional press conference on vintage forecasts, attended by Italian Agriculture Minister Luca Zaia, who will also cut the first bunch of the 2008 grapes.

And there will be a tasting of some bottles of Chiarandà from the first years of the nighttime harvest. A unique sampling permitting assessment of the impact nighttime harvesting has on the development capacities of this wine, symbol of Donnafugata’s passion for quality.




Baldo M. Palermo [email protected]  phone +39 0923 724226

Laura Ellwanger: [email protected] phone. +39 0923 724258

Nando Calaciura [email protected]  mob. +39 338 3229837

  • Com_St_2008_08_08_06_DecennaleVendNott_ENG-1.pdf
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