Tenute Mannino Di Plachi is located in Viagrande, a town surrounded by beautiful, green hills rich in lush vineyards in the Catania province of Sicily. The farm dates back to the 1800s with a long history of winemaking. Today, the modern facility offers a wide range of services like agritourism, ecotourism, food, catering, and obviously wine. Tenute Mannino Di Plachi is managed by Giuseppe Mannino, president of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Etna Doc. Contributing writer Francesca Mignosa spoke with Giuseppe about his winery.
Francesca V. Mignosa (FVM): When did your family story with wine begin?
Giuseppe Mannino (GM): Tenute Mannino di Plachi’s winery was born in the year 1800 when the Baron Franz Mannino began to export wine and oranges to North America and Europe, winning awards in various exhibitions around the world. Now, Tenute Mannino di Plachi are a collection of farms and vineyards. Many tourists come every day for wine tastings, lunches, dinners, and other ecotourism activities.
FVM: How is your company structured and what products do you produce?
GM: Our company is comprised of three divisions: Podere Pietra Marina, Le Sciarelle and Tenuta del Gelso. Podere Pietra Marina is on the north side of Mt. Etna at an altitude of 550 mt. in Castiglione di Sicilia. Here, you find our red grapes, Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio, our wine cellar and our olives. Le Sciarelle on the east side of Mt. Etna at 400 mt. of altitude in Viagrande is where our white grapes, Carricante and Catarratto, and our avocados are grown. Tenuta del Gelso is our third division. In the past, it has focused solely on grapes. In fact, we have one of the biggest Palmentos in the area that testifies to the history of our family’s wine production. [A palmento is a cellar that was built in black lava stone basins where grapes were crushed and processed to make and store wine.] Now, we have 65 hectares [161 acres] of citrus trees and a big vegetable garden.
Our wine production is concentrated on ETNA grapes: Catarratto, Carricante, Nerello Mascalese, and Nerello Cappuccio. A full list of the wines we produce is listed on our website, www.tenutemannino.com. We have also created a wide range of other products. We produce marmalades made with ingredients born on Mt. Etna: oranges, lemons, bitter oranges, mandarins, and honey made from zagara (orange blossom flowers) following our family’s ancient recipe. We also focus on the production of D.O.P. extra virgin olive oil with Nucellara etnea, olives from Mt. Etna. From this stem other creations such as green and black olive paste, traditional and spicy sun-dried tomatoes, an avocado cream, and other vegetable spreads. We guarantee quality and traceability; from raw material to the finished product.
FVM: What recent wine events have you taken part in?
GM: This year we participated in Vinitaly and many other events throughout Italy.
FVM: Vendemmia (Harvest) takes place in October every year. What is it like in your wineries?
GM: Harvest time on Mount Etna takes place during the first 15 days of October for red grapes in the northern slope of Etna in Castiglione di Sicilia. There are about 10 people who work for us. In the southeast slope of Mt. Etna, in Viagrande, harvest time for the white grapes is during the last days of September and there are also about 10 people who work for us. The process takes about 6 days for each side and usually at the end of harvest we organize a barbeque with all the people who helped us.
We produce about 28,000 bottles of wine per year. At the moment, we do not have an importer in the U.S., but wines can be purchased through our website.
FVM: Can you tell readers about the lodging you offer at some of your agriturismi/tenute?
GM: At Tenuta del Gelso we have a bed and breakfast. In Castiglione di Sicilia we have a little home inside a millstone that we rent. We also offer lunches, dinners, wine tastings, cooking classes, and eco-tourism activities.
We hope you visit us during your next trip to Sicily!