The wine story begins in the 1970s. Giovanni was an executive with Stock di Trieste and was accompanying a film crew covering the Festa dell’Etna, a very large bacchanalian fest in Linguaglossa, near the town of Passopisciaro in Sicily. Although Giovanni was a well versed wine drinker, he really did not know the fine wines of the Etna region. After their film shoot, the group was offered some well-aged Nerello Mascalese from barrel. As the saying goes, it was love at first sip! Giovanni vowed then that someday he would produce a wine of this quality and show the world that Etna, too, could make great wine. At the time, little recognition was bestowed upon this tiny appellation and Giovanni wanted to prove the potential for the greatness that Etna had to offer.

Fast forward thirty years and Giovanni Valenti was ready for a second career. Alessandro was now an experienced marketer and was excited about the opportunity to work with his father. Both loved wine. To put the Valenti name on a winery and try to become one the regions finest producers would be a dream come true for both Giovanni and Alessandro.

As luck would have it, the first Valenti purchase was the famed Guardiola vineyard, the highest vineyard in Etna at 700-800m (2296-2624 ft). Subsequent purchases, including a vineyard older than 100 years, have also proven to be outstanding.The Valenti holdings are a mixture of some very old vines (mostly 40-50 years of age) and new plantings. The vineyards are all some of the highest in the Etna region and with elevation comes cooler terroir. The vineyards are planted primarily with the famed red variety of the region, Nerello Mascalese, a little Nerello Cappuccio, and for white wine Carricante. Located north-east of Mt Etna, the position and type of land plot: lava, north-east; altitude 750m (2460ft).

Giovanni is rigorous about implementing organic farming practices and uses only natural products to prevent disease and treat the vines. The diversity of plants and herbs throughout the vineyards is testimony to these farming efforts. Add soil tilled by donkeys and other farm animals, plus hand-harvesting, and you get true artisan viticulture.

Sicilian Wines

A large, geographically and climatically diverse island, just off the toe of Italy, Sicily has long been recognized for its fortified Marsala wines. But it is also a wonderful source of diverse, high quality red and white wines. Steadily increasing in popularity over the past few decades, Italy’s fourth largest wine-producing region is finally receiving the accolades it deserves and shining in today's global market.

Though most think of the climate here as simply hot and dry, variations on this sun-drenched island range from cool Mediterranean along the coastlines to more extreme in its inland zones. Of particular note are the various microclimates of Europe's largest volcano, Mount Etna, where vineyards grow on drastically steep hillsides and varying aspects to the Ionian Sea. The more noteworthy red and white wines that come from the volcanic soils of Mount Etna include Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio (reds) and Carricante (whites). All share a racy streak of minerality and, at their best, bear resemblance to their respective red and white Burgundies.

Nero d’Avola is the most widely planted red variety, and is great either as single varietal bottling or in blends with other indigenous varieites or even with international ones. For example, Nero d'Avola is blended with the lighter and floral, Frappato grape, to create the elegant, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, one of the more traditional and respected wines of the island.