Cantine Settesoli: Sicily, Italy
VINEX goes behind the scenes at one of Sicily’s biggest and most influential producers - Cantine Settesoli - and talks to its president Giuseppe Bursi about the wines it makes and what he sees as the key trends from the region.
Can you tell us about the winery and its history?
Cantine Settesoli is a community of Sicilian wine growers, a large Sicilian vineyard, an authentic wine district in the province of Agrigento: in the area between Menfi, Montevago and Santa Margherita di Belice, where 70% of about 5,000 families in the community are involved in the company’s activities.
Established in 1958 in Menfi, today it has 2,000 growers, 6,000 hectares of vineyards - about 5% of all Sicilian vineyards - and 36 grape varieties - with three wineries dedicated to winemaking with about 400,000 ql. of grapes processed every year and a facility for packaging and storing the finished products.
Cantine Settesoli’s wines are made from select grapes, grown to full ripeness, vinified in the area of origin by integrating the local culture, traditional methods and technological innovation.
What is your average annual production and how was the 2020 vintage compared to recent years?
Our average annual production is 370.000 q.l, and the 2020 vintage was around that figure.
What sort of wines do you make (whites/reds/ ) and the main grape varieties that you work with?
Our winemaking heritage includes typical grape varieties of the Mediterranean region, such as Grecanico, Inzolia and Nero d'Avola, as well as grape varieties that have been recently introduced to Sicily, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, and "innovative" varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Petit Verdot.
Major research and development activities are also underway on calcareous soils and are aimed at improving the quality of the grapes and therefore at producing, in the medium term, wines that are truly unique and distinctive of the territory. The percentage is 70% white varieties and 30% reds.
What is your export strategy and what proportion of your wines are sold domestically and how much is exported?
We are focused on organic wines and strengthening our distribution in the most important foreign markets, especially in the on-trade channel. Up to 72% of our packaged wines are exported with 28% staying in Italy.
Is that split what you want or are you looking to export more of your wines?
Yes, for sure. We would like to grow our international sales.
What are your key export markets around the world and why?
Our biggest markets are the UK, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, where we started our export business more than 30 years ago and where our relationship with partners is stronger than elsewhere.
What are your key target markets in which to grow sales in and why?
Our key target markets are UK, Sweden, Germany, Holland, Austria, USA, Japan, Brazil, Switzerland. We would like to strengthen distribution in Japan and the UK because they are particularly sensitive and open to organic wines.
What is the current pricing for your main red and white wines in export - and how does that compare to average?
Our red wines from 2020 currently have a price of between €1.20 to €1.40 per litre and white wines range from €0.55 to €1.40 per litre.
What are the prospects for the 2021 harvest in terms of quality, size and the impact on prices?
Excellent in terms of quality, while in terms of quantity the forecasts are currently not encouraging, there will certainly be a drop in production and prices are likely to increase.
Have you been making any key changes to how you grow your vines and the viticulture you use in terms of the styles of wine you make?
We are picking our grapes earlier and focus a lot on canopy management through the growing season.
What steps are you taking to combat climate change?
Save energy and water, make sustainable investments, reduce CO2 emissions, reduce our use of chemicals. Our philosophy is based on following ethical principles of sustainability and environmental protection. It has been our mission for the last 60 years and we always have new goals goals to produce quality wines that respect the people and environment that help make it. We are also using drought resistant rootstocks.
What steps are you taking to be more sustainable?
Sustainability is in Cantine Settesoli’s DNA, and is one of the pillars of the company’s mission. We work daily with social responsibility issues looking to contribute to the economic and cultural development of our territory and our community. We are increase the percentage of organic grape and the organic matter in the soils. *
You can find out more about Cantine Settesoli or to receive an introduction by VINEX here