Why WalkingWomen Wine Walks
This Autumn we had our first ever wine walk to Sicily. We started wine walks in Priorat, Northern Spain and last year ventured to Portugal to the Douro Valley. We wanted to walk but also to support the growing number of women who are taking to the land to tend vineyards and create wonderful wines. We discover a country through its cuisine and local wine all whilst walking together.
“Drinking good wine with good food in good company can be one of life’s greatest pleasures”
Read on.. as what better way to have a flavour of our Autumn Sicilian wine walk than through the words of one of our guests Ella..
The menu of possibilities started at the airport – our driver Emmanuel had a few words of English and a quiet, unobtrusive good humour. His family chauffeured us throughout the week with affability and patience .
Destination Scicli,rural, with clusters of baroque houses,the soil a dry talcum powder , looking deceptively like scrublands you could be fooled into thinking the landscape had low propagation but then you remember Sicily is renowned for “feeding the rest of Italy”.The light has an amber quality and the principal colours around our villa (Antica Aia) were of variagated foliage,olive trees,jasmine,palms,flashes of bourganvilla,but predominantly a light yellowish ochre.
A Walk (Necropoli di Cava d’Ispica . Modica area Southern Sicily)
On this Walking Women Holiday,our guide Rafaella Spadola navigated the way through verdant alternating temperatures, highlighting carob, pistachios, pomegranates, lichened damp abandoned mill wheels, revealing Arab industry. A gate-now senseless,leading down to a bend/plunge pool in the river,with a half imagined water snake. All around us the gorge walls of limestone and lofty vegetation. Troglodyte habitation- villages in the rock.
I had a sense of the very bones of Sicilian permaculture,after 3k trekking we stepped through a rough hewn shack/refuge called The Sirocco Shelter run by Giovanni Carbone. The Aperi Trek offered a lunch spread out with nurtured simplicity in the prehistoric environment.Scaccia, a thin flatbread layered with vegetables, cheese and meats, tomatoes lightly baked in the sun, rendering a moist,intense but still gentle flavour. Olives (larger than the greek Kalamata) ricotta and various cheeses were amongst the spread.
Wines with a rosy freshness, apricot coloured lightness,reds with a deep plum like plop into glasses. Here, amongst the dry timbers we sampled and gasped at the return of nutrients from the Sicilian soil from which the aromas had sprung. I reflected that “ the past is never behind,it is always to the side” not my words, but John Berger’s. In that afternoon, the level of time had not passed at all,for that moment we had a connectedness with the people,place their ancestral depth of creativity .
I left the lunch more introspective,but with a higher level of aesthetic appreciation for Sicilian culture. All achieved within an hour. Sensitised and soothed we walked on.
A Vineyard: ( Agricola Arianna Occhipinto. Vittoria )
Seamless pastural parallel rows of vines greeted us at Arianna Occhipinto’s vineyard. A deservedly renowned female winemaker and champion of the Frappato grape.
This is a beautifully proportioned ,estate made-up of what look like white stucco buildings,manicured lawns and artfully placed olive trees. Our guide/sommelier showed us a small quarry the terroir browny red ochre into pink salmon and the flickering white of limestone into which the vines burrowed. Grape skins piled and ploughed back into the land, creating new tilth. I loved the sense of prospect and bouyancy.
Among the wines we sampled along with an expertly laid fare of cold cuts, tomatoes and bread and olive oil offered, were white that had a green leaved honeysuckle flavour. A cloudy wine,with a slightly salty chemical palette and a hint of vegetables falling apart odour, that I was introduced to, more than once throughout our stay will never appeal (just my opinion). The reds were delicious, moderate in tannin, but with a brilliance.
Our host throughout our 1 week Walking Women Wine tour was the brilliant Emelia Strazzanti A highly skilled young experienced chef, who having worked with Anton Mosimann the famous Swiss chef and restaurateur is now focussing on raising the profile of her countries extraordinary cuisine. The complexity of the dishes a legacy of it’s multi cultural past is astounding. With a broad confident knowledge of wines. A ‘ humble’ picnic roll elevated by marinated aubergine and pecorino. Cooking with foresight. Our first meal , pasta with Sicilian sausage and pomodoro was so superb, I could have eaten it in silence, with a quiet glass of wine. By day 3 I had run out of superlatives.Emelia was at times sensitive to our needs and growing wonderment. Hedonism,heat,history,haute cuisine and a better awareness of viticulture .
Expectations will be surpassed. For the senses, this is a matrix of sophistication, independent entrepreneurial cultures, landscapes still impacting on the ideals of the present. Where nature, and the rich,mixed conditions of it past are interlocked and expressed,awaiting our admiration.
My thanks to Ginny and Sara of Walking Women, for their seamless organisation. You can find them firstname.lastname@example.org
Do check out the Sicilian Wine Walking holidays in 2024 Sicily Wine Walks