An Italian-American writer embeds himself in the Sicilian wine trade for a year.
Wine Spectator contributor Camuto (Corkscrewed: Adventures in the New French Wine Country, 2008) takes an intimate journey through vineyards from Marsala to Corleone and up the slopes of Mt. Etna on the island that is said to boast as many as 4,000 grape varieties. Sleeping in rustic agriturismo lodgings and enjoying foods from the nearby farms—bright green pistachios, plump olives, cassata cake filled with sheep’s-milk ricotta—the author extracts illuminating insights from both seasoned and novice winemakers, whose methodologies range from staunchly traditional to trail-blazingly controversial, revealing vivid familial lore, historical tragedies and triumphs, technical challenges in the present and innovative plans for the future of their enterprises. Whether chatting in cavernous vat rooms filled with massive clay amphorae, the back booth of a 19th-century focacceria now under anti-mafia protection or amid craggy branches on terraced vineyards, Camuto gleans illuminating nuggets of wisdom, as when third-generation winemaker Giuseppe Tasca sums up his family's ethos: “My grandfather understood that you make wine in the vineyard…not in the winery.” Though other books offer in-depth portraits of Sicilian winemakers and their product—including Kate Singleton’s Wines of Sicily (2004) and Carlo Gambi’s photographic Journey Among the Great Wines of Sicily (2008)—by coexisting with his subject through four contiguous seasons, Camuto captures an intimate family album that eloquently details the idiosyncrasies, charisma and drive of Sicilian winemakers today.
The author digs deep into the rich artisanal soil of Sicily's wine culture, unearthing centuries-old lineage and lore while closely studying villages, vintages, vintners, vats and a few intriguing vendettas.