Mount Etna in Sicily has sent lava spewing up to 8km into the sky during its Voragine crater's first eruption in two years, but winemakers said vineyards survived unscathed.
Mount Etna’s latest eruption lasted just one hour on 3 December, but it was long enough to eject large amounts of lava into the sky and leave nearby villages covered in ash, as shown by the BBC News clip below. The nearest airport was also closed.
‘The show was pretty spectacular,’ Letizia Patanè, of Passopisciaro Winery, told Decanter.com.
‘Luckily, we didn’t have any damage, because it lasted just 50 minutes. The main problem was the ash.’
She described the scene as a beautiful lava fountain, followed by a huge plume of ash. Etna is Europe’s tallest, active volcano, at around 3.3km high.
Christian Liistro, of Tenuta delle Terre Nere, said he saw ‘lava fountains’ and ‘an eruptive column 7,000 to 8,000 metres high’.
Rather than disrupt winemakers, he said the eruption could help local vineyards.
‘Ash emissions occurred from the New South East Crater, which will be greatly beneficial for vineyards, due to its fertilising effect,’ he said.
The last time lava from Mount Etna reached the vineyards was in 1981, following an eruption on the nothern part of the volcano.
Several wine critics have likened vineyards around Etna to Burgundy, but – as with all agriculture – planting so close to an active volcano naturally carries a degree of risk.
- Read Simon Woolf’s regional profile of Etna vineyards and wines, published earlier this year on Decanter.com.
- See also: Six new wave Etna wineries to watch