Wine Tourism in the Heart of Sicily.
In a few (too short) weeks 2023 will be upon us which had me thinking about travel trends for the new year and especially what is predicted for culinary travel and wine tourism. These are have been trending in 2022 and predicted to continue in 2023. It just so happens to be my favorite experiences when I travel. While I am aware that not everyone who is a wine enthusiast is also a foodie, but honestly I seldom get requests for one experience without the other.
Opinions regarding what will be trending in 2023 differ somewhat from one publication to another, one trend that remains steady is that families want to spend time together, sharing authentic experiences. Family reunions and multi-generational trips are popular, and the reason for those a no-brainer. Same with wish-list or bucket-lists, depending on who you ask.
People are no longer postponing those dream destinations, and I have heard that all too familiar, “life is too short” quote many times in the past year. Travelers are ready to push beyond their comfort zones, want authentic, off the beaten path adventures, and have expressed interest in discovering new cultures and trying new experiences. Cookie cutter trips are out as people reevaluate what is important to them after the pandemic. Travelers don’t want to rush an experience; they want to savor and share it with loved ones. Those who enjoy traveling solo, expressed a desire to make new friends along the way.
With Thanksgiving upon us, I wondered how those who celebrate this holiday will spend it while traveling abroad. I do know that travelers love to learn about cultures through their food so “foodie” families who are traveling together, might just try a new experience this Thanksgiving.
As loved ones are increasingly seeking authentic experiences together, taking cooking classes, trying local fare and shopping in the local markets while away on their trip, have been a big part of their shared experiences. Not to mention comparing whose dish most closely resembles the ones they learned to cook while traveling! Food always has a way of bringing people together and the holidays are a perfect example of that.
Many friendships have started at the local “off the beaten path” restaurants or eateries, which has been my experience when traveling solo, and has become a way to connect with others all over the world. Conversations have started over an interesting dish or scrumptious dessert and the unique flavors that are distinct to the area they are visiting. Thanks to social media, we now share those images and experiences with friends and followers far and wide.
Countries are also often associated with particular foods. People will travel across the world to eat an authentic tagine in Morocco, or the best ramen in Japan and let’s not forget the best pizza or pasta in Italy! While the pristine beaches and ancient architecture steeped in some of the Mediterranean’s richest history, and their “dolce far niente” way of life is quite intoxicating, Italian food is without question one of the main attractions. Wait… no I meant to say the wine! Well, it is definitely a tie. Italy is famous for both!
As a firm believer in seeking out that off the beaten path adventure, I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the Di Giovanna winery, nestled in the mountainside of Monte Genuardo, which is a protected nature reserve. Di Giovanna is one of the oldest wine growing families in Sicily. For my wine afficionados and clients, their viticulture tradition dates back 5 generations, between Contessa Entellina and Sambucca di Sicilia and they have won many awards!
Not only do they provide an incredible wine tasting experience, they collaborate with the Abbey Santa Maria Del Bosco, a magnificent ancient Sicilian Abbey, also situated in the Monte Genuardo nature reserve. Just imagine staying in a gorgeous yet “primitive” abbey, probably dating back to 1300 with all that history to discover! You can read more about the Abbey HERE and by the way, it is also a stunningly beautiful wedding destination venue! Just take a look at those pictures. One does not get much more unique than that!
Additionally, to add to the culinary experience, the winery offers a market tour and Di Giovanna wine lunch. This full-on Sicilian food experience includes a chef-led walking market tour with a local expert, to discover the unique and beautifully unpredictable outdoor food markets in the historic city center of Palermo. This is followed by a communal hands-on cooking class with lunch. Just imagine impressing your friends back home with your new-found Sicilian cooking skills!
The best times to visit this stunningly beautiful winery and stay a few nights in the abbey, is during Spring and Fall. Being in the mountains, just 20 km from the Mediterranean coastline, the hillsides are covered in wildflowers and herbs in the Spring when visitors can enjoy the fresh ricotta. The fall is the grape and olive harvest season, with still plenty of sunshine and light. During this time visitors can enjoy cooler temperatures and a more laid-back experience as there are fewer tourists. The sea is usually warm for swimming until October. The island is also famous for its cathedrals, island beaches, and amazing architecture so there is no shortage of activities for you to participate in during your visit.
As for the wine, Sicily, in fact, is the largest winemaking region in all of Italy. In fact, larger than even Chianti powerhouse Tuscany, whose vineyard space amounts to more than the entire countries of Germany, New Zealand, or South Africa can boast. Yet sadly, Sicilian wine has not been as well- known in the US compared to other Italian regions which is such a shame! However, you can order the wine online and also contact Di Giovanna winery for more info. See their contact information below.
Di Giovanna wine is available in the USA, and Melissa Di Giovanna was kind enough to make suggestions for Thanksgiving wine pairings: For your traditional turkey dinner, try the Vurria Nerello Mascalese Rosso. For a game or lamb dinner, try Helios Nero d’Avola which is the family’s flagship wine. For salmon and vegetarian dishes, Melissa recommends Vurria Nerello Mascalese Rosato DOC Sicilia 2021. You can read more about their wines and their many awards HERE and information about their wine tours are HERE. If you are heading to Italy, be sure to add this experience to your itinerary!
Wishing you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving! Until next time.