The post-conference tours were organised in collaboration to the Etna Wine Lab who I'll give a shout-out to here. One day focused on the Southeastern side, and the next day went to the Northern side and on each day we visited a couple of wineries to get a feel of the area and to compare. Funny actually to go on wine tours yourself, when you are used to being on the other side and organising them! So I'll here feature the highlights for us on those two days.
By the way, I should probably mention that the native grapes around Etna are mainly Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio for the reds, and Cataratto or Carricante for the whites. Sicily is usually considered a dry and hot climate for grape growing, so the area of Etna distinguishes itself not just by the volcanic soil, but some vineyards are quite high in altitude so the climate is cooler and temperature excursions more dramatic. But surely if you're interested in going to Etna and perhaps have longer time than we did to discover the rest of the island, here's a very good and detailed read "The World of Sicilian Wine".
Vineyards around Etna are mainly on the Eastern and Northern slopes. Other crops found in various locations around the Vulcano are pistachio, hazelnuts and prickly pears - not to forget olives, oranges & lemons.
Etna in eruption (red lava was visible by night, I was told - me? Sound asleep, of course!)
Lava is broken into fertile soil after a millennia or so...
The first night we visited Benanti winery which was lovely and recommendable.
Visiting the Murgo winery on the Eastern side
Watching the sparkling be disgorged and corked (how's sparkling wine made?)
Time to taste - excellent wines
Sicilian cheeses and cold cuts to nibble on during tastings.
Pierre enjoying some Nerello...
Murgo has a restaurant with quite the view...
Our group of wine tour operators from around the World...
Crazy vineyard project at La Gelsomina
The Etna wine train is a different way of getting from village to village...
View from the train...
More volcanic rock - really impressive
Chiara at her family farm Fattorie Romeo del Castello
The "wall" is recent lava stream that covered several hectares destroying many vineyards
Spring's a great time to visit!
Old cellars no longer used for storage of wine but part of history
Excellent wines with beautiful labels
Around Sicily there are hundreds of very old cellars like this one where grapes were stomped in big stone vats
Etna through a glass!
Another winery visit (mostly memorable for the dog)
And the view!