Last year saw an increase in foreign visitors and a doubling of inflow to Pantelleria. Upcoming attractions are Open Cellars in May and Goblets Full of Stars in August.
Wine tourism figures at Donnafugata were remarkably good in 2007. Overall, the company attracted about 7,000 visitors, with foreign visitors increasing from 27% to 36% of the total; Americans were in the lead, followed by Germans and Swiss. Visits to Pantelleria, the island of sun and wind, broke all records by doubling last year’s figures.
Wine tourism is a project addressed to wine-lovers and wine experts, with highly personalized welcomes giving visitors the chance for a first-hand look at the world of Donnafugata, its wines and its territory.
In addition to tours of the historical cellars in Marsala and the vineyards and cellars at Contessa Entellina and Pantelleria, the big attractions are certainly the guided tastings, with different orientations: the wines by themselves or as elegant accompaniments to local culinary specialties. And most intriguing are the musical tastings, where every wine is combined with a piece of music whose notes and rhythms accompany taste sensations: an original multi-sensorial experience of wine and music conceived by Josè Rallo, head of the family company.
“Cantine Aperte” (“Open Cellars”) and “Calici di Stelle” (“Goblets Full of Stars”) are also a part of wine tourism. They are two big nationwide events promoted by the Wine Tourism Association in which Donnafugata has been participating from the beginning, drawing more and more knowledgeable participants.
Josè Rallo explains that “a growing number of Italian and foreign tourists attracted by Sicily’s beautiful scenery, archaeological sites and monuments are including in their itineraries visits to wineries and tastings of wines and local food products. They are spurred by a love for wine and a desire to get to know its secrets right from the producer himself. Our aim is to give them an experience that leaves a mark on their minds and hearts. This is why Donnafugata offers visitors the chance to follow an informative, educational route throughout the production process and to end up with a tasting. We let the wine tourist choose the tour that best responds to his or her technical or convivial demands.”
The company accepts both groups organized by tour operators and individual groups of wine-lovers. And it is exactly the latter who benefit most by the information contained in the Wine Tourism section at www.donnafugata.it, where you can make online tour bookings.
Upcoming events at Donnafugata
Cantine Aperte, Sunday May 25, 2008 – Marsala
Now in its 15th edition, Open Cellar Day will be observed at the historical Donnafugata cellars at Via Lipari 18, Marsala. Wine tourists, little family groups and lots of young people will be visiting this famous Sicilian winery starting at 10 a.m.
The Rallo family and winery staff will all be on hand to warmly welcome visitors. The program includes a guided tour of the cellars and especially of the splendid new underground barrique room, plus a tasting of all the company’s labels.
This year too there will be entertainment for children aged 4 to 12. Reservations are required and can be made by telephoning toll-free number 800 252321 or via e-mail to [email protected]. at The tasting fee is five euros, payable on admission, and there is also a five-euro deposit for the tasting goblet. Wines will be for sale and the event concludes at 6 p.m.
Calici di Stelle, August 10, 2008 – Donnafugata wine estate at 60 km along route 624 (the Palermo-Sciacca highway).
August 10th will be a magical, memorable night for “Goblets Full of Stars,” the traditional summer Wine Tourism Movement event that every year brings hundreds of visitors to Donnafugata. Under the shooting stars on the night of San Lorenzo, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Donnafugata opens its doors for what is by now one of the most eagerly awaited fine wine fetes in Italy.
The program is always a rich one and there will be a tour of the Chardonnay vineyard “La Fuga” and the wine estate’s cellars plus a tasting of all the company’s wines.
In addition, in certain years this August date has permitted visitors to watch the nighttime grape harvest, the method introduced by Donnafugata to avoid high daytime temperatures and thus preserve the aromas of the grapes while saving on energy and therefore helping to protect the environment. At this moment it’s too soon to know if the two dates will coincide, but what is sure is that the nighttime harvest will really be special this year, when the house will be celebrating its 10th anniversary!
You can make reservations for Calici di Stelle at the toll-free number 800 252321 or via e-mail at [email protected]. The tasting fee is five euros, payable on admission, and there is a five-euro deposit for the tasting goblet. Wines will be for sale.
Donnafugata on Pantelleria from mid-July to mid-September
A wind-swept volcanic island, splendidly Mediterranean in its colors. Closer to the coast of Africa than to Sicily, Pantelleria is luxuriant and wild. In the summer of 2006 Donnafugata opened its new Khamma cellars to the public and it was here that in 2007 Donnafugata enjoyed its greatest success, with more than 1,200 visitors in July, August and September. The Khamma tour is remarkably special and offers a breathtaking view of the 100-year-old Zibibbo vineyard, an extraordinary example of biodiversity surrounded by traditional drywalls with new vines growing flush with the ground.
The new Khamma cellar blends in perfectly with the landscape, a natural amphitheater of terraces gently embracing the vinification cellars clad in hand-hewn lava stone. A place where silence and harmony reign supreme.
In the middle of the courtyard a two-story edifice typical of the island hosts a wine shop where you can taste Donnafugata wines. No one should miss a chance to taste Kabir, a Moscato, and Ben Ryé, a Pantelleria raisin wine. Two naturally sweet wines, known and loved for their extraordinary personality.
Detailed info on how to get to Donnafugata in Marsala, Contessa Entellina and on Pantelleria can be found in the “Wine Tourism” section at www.donnafugata.it.
Baldo M. Palermo [email protected] tel. 0039 0923 7242267
Laura Ellwanger [email protected] te. 0039 0923 724258