Diego Planeta and Sicily’s winemaking Renaissance
Sicily, the largest island of the Mediterranean is one of Italy’s most interesting winemaking regions. Sicilian winemaking dates back to the Phoenicians and the ancient Greeks. The island, with its variety of viticultural areas, climate and soil, can be compared to an entire continent.
Only a few decades ago, Sicilian wines were known as bulk wines and sold to enhance the gradation of French and Northern Italian wines. In the last thirty years Sicily has been shaking off its bulk wine reputation with an increasing number of winemakers producing and promoting higher quality wines.
Diego Planeta was one of the first winemakers that understood the necessity of improving Sicilian wines. His awareness of Sicily’s quality wine potential inspired him to become pioneer of Sicilian quality winemaking. In the seventies Diego Planeta became president of “Cantine Settesoli” today one of Europe’s largest and most successful cooperative wineries with 2,300 associates with an annual output of 22 milion bottles.
As President of the Regional Institute of Vine and Wine in Sicily from 1975 to 1982, Diego Planeta promoted public investments in experimental research to improve the Sicilian winemaking process from the vineyard to the bottle. He spent his life-time experience convincing other wine makers to focus their efforts on producing high quality wines.
In 2004 Diego Planeta was confered as “Cavaliere del Lavoro” by the President of the Italian Republic in recognition of his “immense contribution to promote the Sicilian wines around the world”. In 2010 Italy issue of Decanter Magazine, Diego Planeta has been named among the Top 10 Most Influential Italians in the wine trade.
Decanter writes: “Diego Planeta has helped put Sicily on the world’s quality wine map. His family wine company led the Sicilian wine revolution, showing how a region whose annual production of grapes was the highest in Europe could improve its wines, market them with style and reach global markets…”
Today Planeta Winery is one of the premier wine estates of Sicily. The company has vineyards and estates in six different areas of Sicily. The Ulmo estate located on the Arancio Lake, near Sambuca, is their first winery and ancestral family home. Wine enthusiasts and not only can visit the estate and tour its vast vineyards, ancient olive groves and the ruins of an ancient Arab Castle.