The Settesoli co-operative is the largest wine company in Sicily, owning 5% of the island's entire vineyard area.
The company was founded in 1958 by a group of farmers who wanted to beat the serious economic difficulties that were spreading across the island. They released their first vintage in 1965, and spent the next 15 years perfecting the production of wines using Sicily's indigenous grape varieties. In the 1980s, the company began to introduce international varieties like cabernet sauvignon, merlot and sauvignon blanc, and the 1990s saw the blossoming of the premium Mandrarossa range. Since then the company has continued to expand whilst keeping the quality levels consistently high.
The co-operative now comprises around 2,500 members, who between them harvest over 12,000 acres of vineyards. The company owns four separate wineries which it uses to produce 20 million bottles every year, around 60% of which are exported to over 35 countries worldwide.
Settesoli is located at Menfi, a town on the hills in Sicily's south-west corner. It isn't surprising that this area has been known for its wine production for thousands of years: the slopes, the sea, and the mild, sunny climate all contribute to an ideal vine growing environment. Vineyards range from sea level up to a height of 400m in the hills, meaning there are a variety of microclimates to explore. These are separated into individual parcels so that each grape variety can be planted in its ideal terroir.
Learning from the ancient viticulturists, the company still uses traditional vine training methods, such as the Greek 'l'albarello' in which wires are used to support older vines in a goblet-like shape, and 'controspalliera', a way of training the vine vertically. Conversely, it also uses state-of-the-art technology to determine the best time for harvesting and, once the grapes have been hand-harvested, modern techniques in the winery (such as an advanced refrigeration system) ensure the grapes achieve their fruity, fragrant potential.
Settesoli's premium Mandrarossa range uses only the best grapes, each vineyard plot of which is fermented separately in order to reflect the influence of the land in creating these aromatic, attractive wines.