Etna, Sicily, Italy
Tribute and transformation – the foundations of a new icon
Giuseppe Russo founded his estate in 2005 in a tribute to his father, Girolamo. It was not long before his wines gained a cult following among Italian critics and sommeliers. ‘Girolamo Russo’ is now a synonym for the vibrancy and purity of the best Etna wines.
Location: Etna, Sicily, Italy
Working with us since: 2021
Total area under vine: 15 hectares
Viticultural Standards: Organic (Non-certified)
Interesting fact: Giuseppe originally thought his life path would completely depart from his family’s winemaking legacy. He left his hometown, trained as a pianist, taught music and studied literature before realising, following his father’s death, that his true vocation was one and only: to make wines in the Etna.
Girolamo Russo Wines
Giuseppe Russo founded the ‘Girolamo Russo’ estate in 2005 as a tribute to his eponymous late father. The Russos are native to Passopisciaro, a village on Etna’s north slope, that has become the epicentre of the rebirth on one the most important indigenous varieties – Nerello Mascalese.
The Etna is Europe’s largest active volcano and it’s on its unique soils, at an altitude between 650 and 780 metres, that the Russo estate sprawls across 26 hectares of vines, olive trees and hazelnut groves. Many of the free-standing bush vines are over 80 years old, having evolved in harmony in Etna’s black, mineral-rich volcanic soil.
It is the history of this terroir and of the people that have worked it for centuries that Giuseppe tells through his wines; each one reflects the diverse character of the specific ‘cru’ vineyards (or ‘contradas’) they are produced from. Due to the specific location on the volcano and the different layers of lava and ash that compose the soil, each contrada has its own character as do, therefore, the wines made from each of them.
The other aspect that makes each vineyards special is the way the local farmers – or contadini – have worked the vines through time on this harsh terrain. Often comprised of narrow terraces held in place by dry-stone walls, the plants have had to adapt to mineral-rich but very dry conditions. Each plant is pruned, hoed and tied individually and almost all of them are trained as bush vines (known locally as ‘alberello’) – free-standing ‘little trees’ that find their own balance in these peculiar soils and that are cared for by hand.
Giuseppe used to follow his father around in the vineyards as a young but it was only after his death that his life’s main goal became obvious: to make the best wines in this challenging but uniquely beautiful area, now attracting so many winemakers from the all over the world but that to Giuseppe and his family has always just been home.