Italy – Donnafugata
Located on the island of Sicily, Donnafugata was founded in 1983 by the Rallo family, who brought with them 150 years of experience from Marsala Rallo. Today it remains in the caring hands of the Rallo family, being run by Giacomo Rallo and wife Gabriella, daughter José and son Antonio.
The name Donnafugata means “woman in flight” or “fugitive woman”, hence the Donnafugata logo, which features a woman with windblown hair. This adopted and evocative name is both a historical and literary reference. In 1799, upon the arrival of Napoleon’s troops, Queen Maria Carolina fled Naples for Sicily and sought refuge in the country estate of a noble. These same estates are now home to the Rallo family’s vineyards. It was in Sicilian novelist Di Lampedusa’s great novel The Leopard that the estates were christened Donnafugata.
As a producer, Donnafugata is incredibly innovative and forward-thinking while retaining strong ties to their Sicilian past. They draw 70% of their power from solar and live-stream their harvests while championing indigenous grape varieties and ageing their wines in the family cellars that date back to 1851.
While Sicily is quite far south, the Donnafugata white, red and passito wines are all marked by surprising acidity and verve. The cool Sicilian nights help with this, but Donnafugata also encourages acidity by harvesting at night, as well as picking a small portion of their fruit earlier to add freshness to the blend. The elixir Ben Rye, wine made from sun-dried Muscat of Alexandria grapes, is a frequent Tre Bicchieri recipient and one of Italy’s great wines.