Wine Tour to Eastern Sicily and Etna

13th-17th May 2024 – tour full
20th-24th May 2024 – tour full
7th-11th October 2024limited availability
14th-18th October 2024good availability

5 days/4 nights based in Siracusa, £1,375pp, £125 single supplement
Price excludes flights/Early booking discount available

  • Visits to key DOCs including Etna, Vittoria and Noto.
  • Visit top estates, tasting award winning wines.
  • Stay in the city of Siracusa, famed for its ancient history and baroque architecture.
  • Enjoy the stunning scenery of the region.
  • At least six visits over three days.
  • Comprehensive tastings at every visit, and four fabulous tasting lunches or dinners

Tour dates 

13th-17th May 2024 – fully booked
20th-24th May 2024 – fully booked
7th-11th October 2024 – limited availability
14th-18th October 2024 good availability

Outline Itinerary

Day 1
Our tour commences at our Meeting Point at Catania Airport at 11.30am (see Flight Transfers below).  We will board our coach for the hour drive to Siracusa, where we will settle into our 4 star hotel.  In the evening we will stroll out to a local restaurant where we will enjoy a first night dinner that introduces the region.

Day 2 – south from Siracusa

Commences with a short coach journey south of Siracusa, to visit the DOC regions of Eloro, Noto and Siracusa itself.  We will visit two or three wineries, tasting wines, and enjoying a tasting lunch at one of them.  This will be our opportunity to taste some top class Moscato wines made in a variety of styles.
Evening at leisure in Siracusa.

Planeta Vineyard 2017 tour

Day 3 – north to Etna

We head north, the coach taking an hour or so to reach the Etna DOC, where we will visit two wineries.  Our visits will enable us to understand the wonderful Etna terroir, with its glorious views of the Mediterranean to the east, and to see how its famous white and red wines are made.  We will enjoy comprehensive tastings, and lunch with a spectacular backdrop!
Evening at leisure in Siracusa.  

Day 4 – west to Vittoria

Our longest journey takes us west to visit the DOC of Vittoria and the DOCG of Cerasuolo di Vittoria.  A day principally devoted to red wines, but the lovely aromatic style of the Frappato/Nero d’Avola blend will be a revelation.  A light lunch at one of the wineries we visit will keep us going, as we will need to save ourselves for our final night dinner.

View from Cantine Fina 2017 tour

Day 5
The tour ends after breakfast. Our coach will take us to Catania Airport (See Flight Transfers below), leaving at 9am.

Note: the Itinerary may be changed at Tim Syrad Wine Tours discretion so as to facilitate the smooth running of the tour and to accommodate great opportunities for visits or tastings that may become available.

Key Tour Information

* The Key Tour Information specifies what you should expect from the tour, no matter how far ahead you book.
As additional information is published on the website, it will be advised to clients who have reserved a place. The daily itinerary will be finalised in the weeks leading up to the Start Date.

Pricing

  • £1,375 per person based on 2 people sharing a double/twin room.
  • £125 supplement for single occupancy of a double room,
  • £100 discount for bookings made before 1st January 2024, and paid for 12 weeks before departure.

Price includes

  • Transport from the Meeting Point at Catania Airport to the hotel on Day 1, and to the Departure Point at Catania Airport on Day 5.
  • 5 days (including arrival and departure days)/4 nights bed and breakfast in good quality 4 star hotel in Siracusa.
  • Coach for all activities in the itinerary.
  • Three full days of visits and tastings.
  • Six visits/tastings, including wineries in Etna, Vittoria and Noto, tasting the key grape varieties and styles of the region.
  • Four lunches/dinners with local wines.
  • All local taxes and service charges.
  • The services of Tim Syrad as your Wine Tour Manager and Wine Guide.

It is a condition of my accepting a booking that you will take out appropriate travel insurance – please see our Terms and Conditions Section 8.

Terms and Conditions are available here or on request.

Please note flights are not included in the price. Many of my clients prefer to extend their holiday before or after my tours, so I let people make their own flight arrangements.

* End of Key Tour Information

Flight Transfers

Our Meeting and Departure Point is Catania-Fontanarossa Airport.  I will arrange transfers to coincide with the following flights.

Tours 1/2 – May 2024
Outbound (Monday 13th/20th May 2024)
British Airways from London Gatwick to Catania. Flight BA2610 departs LGW 0710 arrives CTA 1125.
Return (Friday 17th/24th May 2024)
British Airways from Catania to London Gatwick. Flight BA2611 departs CTA 1225 arrives LGW 1440.

Tours 3/4 – October 2024
Outbound (Monday 7th/15h October 2024)
British Airways from London Gatwick to Catania. Flight BA2610 departs LGW 0710 arrives CTA 1125.
Return (Friday 11th/18th October 2024)
British Airways from Catania to London Gatwick. Flight BA2611 departs CTA 1225 arrives LGW 1440.

Please contact me if you would like to discuss travel options, for example flying to or from a different airport or making the journey by rail or driving.  I cannot arrange travel for you, but I can advise on what might work best.

How to book this tour

Please contact me by phone or email, or use the enquiry form on the Contact page on the website to check availability.  When I confirm a place is available, please complete the booking form to reserve your place.

Once I have confirmed a tour is proceeding I advise clients to arrange flights and confirm travel arrangements to me. Please do not arrange flights before I have confirmed your place and that the tour is proceeding.

Full payment must be made 12 weeks before the tour starts, invoices will be sent out 14 weeks before the tour starts.  Two weeks before the tour starts you will need to provide your insurance details (name of insurer, policy number, 24 hour emergency telephone numbers), outbound/inbound travel arrangements and any dietary requirements.

More about my Wine Tour to Eastern Sicily

Sicily has “…so many different terroirs and terrains that one might even suggest it should be regarded as a continent rather than a mere island…” Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, World Atlas of Wine, 7th Edition.

This tour focuses on the eastern side of the island, in the south western corner of the island’s triangle (in the Middle Age the island was known as Trinacria, and still has the triskelion symbol at the centre of its regional flag).  Previous tours have focused on the western side, based in Marsala – read the tour report of these tours for more information.
While our daily itineraries focus on DOC regions, with their individual specialities of ‘principal’ (ie required) grape varieties and winemaking approaches, we will also be tasting top quality IGT wines (equivalent to the old ‘Vin de Pays’ denomination), where rules permit a wider palate of varieties and styles.

Where we are staying

Our base is Siracusa, with its ancient trading history (thanks to its proximity to Italy, Greece and north Africa), and more recent Baroque architecture.  Just an hour from Catania, and a couple of hours from key wine regions such as Etna and Vittoria, this is an ideal location from which to explore Eastern Sicily.  The island of Ortigia provides the perfect place for an evening stroll on our evenings at leisure, whether we want to enjoy sea breezes or explore beautiful architecture before settling down for a drink, a snack or a meal.

What we will be eating

As befits an entrepôt of the ancient world, Sicily has an eclectic cuisine, that draws on its wonderful climate, fertile soils and the surrounding seas.  Whether you favour meat, fish or vegetarian fare, starters and mains will be delicious.
The oldest location in Europe where pasta was formed into thin strips, spaghetti is now a staple of dishes such as pasta con le sarde (sardines), pasta alla Norma (with aubergine) and pasta with capuliato (dried tomato).  Couscous is also a popular staple, and for arancini fans, Sicily is truly a place of wonder.
For the sweet-toothed, cannoli siciliana (deep fried pastry tubes containing sweetened ricotta) make an appearance at many times of the day (we were once treated to a tray of them as we boarded our coach), while granita is a semi frozen sugary dessert often flavoured with almond.
And no evening on tour is complete without a visit to a gelateria, which abound in Siracusa!
Best of all we will be receive the wonderful warmth of Italian hospitality.

2017 tour Giuseppe Ceuso
Grape varieties we will encounter

While Sicily’s recent history involved the planting of, and much success with, international varieties such as Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, it is for the quality and variety of its indigenous varieties that we are visiting.  We will be tasting blends and single varietal wines, and have a cornucopia of flavours to explore.
Carricante is the grape variety that is the focus of the Etna DOC’s white wines, it loves the bright sunshine and cool nights that come with altitude, and creates glorious powerful, fresh complex wines. 
Catarratto tends to be called the workhorse of Sicily, but when its tendency to yield high is controlled it produces wines with lovely lemony and herbal notes. 
Grillo (thought to be a cross between Catarratto and Moscato) offers more body and complexity, while Inzolia (also called Ansonica) brings added nutty, herbal character. Minnella is virtually only found growing on the volcanic soils of Mount Etna, producing tiny quantities, but with an exotic palate of tropical fruits and speices and super acidity.
Malvasia and Moscato are found all around the Mediterranean, reflecting their ancient origins, and are often used in the production of sweet wines.

The key native red variety in Sicily is Nero d’Avola, producing wines or deep colour, strong tannins and rich flavours, while Nerello Mascalese and its cousin Nerello Cappuccio are the key red varieties of the Etna DOC, both benefitting from the longer growing season which helps them to retain more floral and red fruit character.
Frappato is an aromatic variety with low tannins, rather like Gamay.  Its most famous role is in the DOCG Cerasuolo di Vittoria, where it is blended with Nero d’Avola.  It is also used to produce fresh juicy varietal IGT wines.
Perricone or Pignatello, which in the 19th Century was exported widely in ‘Zucco Rosso’ wines, is also blended with Nero d’Avola in a few Sicilian DOCs including Eloro, and is also used  in IGT wines.  It is considered similar to the Barbera variety of Piedmont, with earthy, herbal flavours and notable tannins.

Wine regions we are visiting

Etna DOC
The first DOC to be awarded in Sicily, in 1968, with white wines made from a minimum of Carrricante, and red or rosé wines made from a minimum of 80% Nerello Mascalese (with no more than 20% Nerello Cappuccio).   Traditional Method sparkling wine is also permitted under the DOC, mainly from Nerello Mascalese as a blanc de noir or rosé. 
The wine growing area skirts the volcano on the coastal side, and vines benefit from the reflected sunlight from the waters of the Med.  A range of ‘terroirs’ reflect the increasing altitude and varied soils (richer, darker soils are at the higher levels), and top producers are planting at higher altitudes to achieve greater ‘diurnal’ variation (between day and night time temperatures), slowing the rate of ripening and increasing flavour complexity and tannic ripeness.
Old vines (some over 100 years) are trained up chestnut poles in the ‘Alberello’ approach, which provides some stability on the steep slopes.  Within the region’s 1,000 or so hecatares, there are over 130 ‘contrade’, tiny sub divisions of villages, which can be named on the bottle, and are increasingly becoming important to understanding Etna wine.

We will spend a day discovering three small DOCs south of Siracusa:

Siracusa DOC, with 58ha of vines was originally dedicated to the production of white wines, with Moscato being its speciality.   While sparkling wines are permitted, its fame relates to the sweet Moscato di Siracusa, made by the passito method of drying harvested grapes before pressing and fermentation.

The Noto DOC, just south of Siracusa, has 68 hectares of vines in a fairly large area of land around the town of Avola, home to the Nero d’Avola grape variety, which its reds must contain at least 65%.  Its white wines are made from 100% Moscato, and include sparkling, dry, sweet and fortified, and are better known than its reds (which were only permitted under the DOC since 2008!).

Eloro DOC has 78 hectares in the far south west where the production of red and rosé wines is permitted from principal varieties Frappato, Nero d’Avola and/or Perricone varieties.  Coastal breezes (the Pachino Rosso sub region is effectively the land bordering Cape Passero).

Vittoria, on the west facing southern coast of Sicily, beyond the coastal mountains to the west of Siracusa, is home to the Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG.  The ‘G’ connotes a superior status, reflecting the wine style’s unique character and long history.  It is the only DOCG in Sicily (since a change in EU rules in 2008, no more DOCGs can be created).  Cerasuolo means ‘cherry coloured’, and the wines do indeed have a beautiful deep ruby colour, and cherry like aromas.  The majority of the blend is Frappato, but Nero d’Avola contributes tannins and body, allowing the best examples to age for up to 20 years.  150 hectares of vines are spread across a vast area from Riesi in the west to Ragusa in the east, growing on limestone and clay.  The Classico zone, which corresponds to the original DOC region, surrounds the city of Vittoria.  DOCG wines must have a minimum of 12.5% alcohol, and to have been aged for at least 8 months, under the Vittoria DOC, the same blend can be made with less strict restrictions, and a variety of other styles are made plus white wines from mainly Inzolia/Asonica.

More about Tim Syrad Wine Tours

Since 1997 I have escorted over 125 groups of people on wine tours, visiting more than 30 wine regions in Europe and the New World. My clients keep coming back year after year because in addition to tastings and visits we really do meet the people who make the wine and tend the vines.

I pride myself in offering tours that are informative, imaginative and enjoyable. I keep group sizes manageable so that we spend our time appreciating our visits, not getting on and off the bus or queuing for the loos! I personally escort all of my tours, and I ensure as much as possible of the money my clients pay is spent on great food and wine, and good hotels. I believe you can combine appreciating fabulous wine with relaxation and laughter, which is why so many of my clients come on tour with me every year. More than 80 people have come on at least 10 of my tours.

There is a friendly and welcoming atmosphere on every tour from the start, and I am proud that many friendships have been made between the people who come on tour with me.

Check out the FAQ page for more specific information about my tours, or contact me directly if you would like to discuss any aspect of my tours.

For more information about me, my next tours, and previous tours I have run, and to find out what my clients say (some of whom have been coming on tour with me since 2001) please explore the website.

Get in touch

For more information, or to book a place, please contact me
By phone (020 7060 4529)
Or email (tim@timsyradwinetours.com)
Or use the online enquiry form on the Contact page