Etna wildfires threaten 'Sicilian Montrachet'

  • Tuesday 7 August 2012

Wildfires on the slopes of Mount Etna threatened the winery and vines of Passopisciaro, the Sicilian outpost of Tuscan producer Tenuta di Trinoro.

Fires in the Zingaro National Park in Sicily

Image credit: Corriere della Sera

The fires, prompted by soaring temperatures of up to 35C, devastated the northern slopes of Etna on Sunday, destroying large swathes of Mediterranean scrub, pine and beech forests in the Zingaro National Park.

Barbara Santilli of Tenuta di Trinoro said the fires, fuelled by the strong Sirocco wind, damaged broom bushes in Contrada Guardiola, where the Passopisciaro winery is located, ‘almost reaching the walls of the cellar’.

She added: ‘The fires spread very fast and therefore also damaged some of our Chardonnay vineyards of the Guardiola cru, planted at 1,000m, our Sicilian Montrachet.

‘Luckily, the grounds around the vines were kept clean, so the flames didn’t destroy the plants; however, the high temperatures could have harmed the grapes.’

Santilli said it was too soon to assess the possible damage to this year’s harvest.

The Chardonnay vineyards are the source of Passopisciaro’s flagship white wine, Guardiola.

About 900 tourists were evacuated from hotels and campsites when the fires took hold, as firefighters battled for 12 hours to control the blazes in the 4,000-acre park.

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