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Majolica Travel S.r.l.s.

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THE ORIGIN OF MARSALA WINE IN SICILY

2022-04-19 02:30 PM

Marialuisa Fiorito

Curiosities from the Island, Florio Family, History, Trapani, Wine, Marsala,

THE ORIGIN OF MARSALA WINE IN SICILY

Marsala's history begins in 1773, not by the hand of a Sicilian, but thanks to an English man: John Woodhouse, a merchant from Liverpool.

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Marsala is a Sicilian wine, known and appreciated all over the world.

Its history begins in 1773, not by the hand of a Sicilian, but thanks to an English man: John Woodhouse, a merchant from Liverpool.

 

The story of this creation has various versions, from the most fictional to the most truthful.

 

In the fictional one, it is said that Woodehouse's ship was sailing to Mazara del Vallo with a load of lye and that due to a storm, the vessel got blocked at the port of Marsala. The inhabitants offered the crew an excellent wine, reserved for special occasions. This wine was produced according to the aging method, which consisted of topping up the oak barrels that contained old wine residues with new wine. This technique gave the wine an intense flavor, much appreciated by English people. Woodhouse liked it so much that he decided to start a business.

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On the other hand, the facts say that the creation of Marsala was not a coincidence and that Woodhouse knew very well this Sicilian wine for special occasions. Since no one had yet exported the wine produced by the Marsalesi, Woodhouse took the initiative to ship it to England, buying it at meager costs and making a fortune in the motherland. The only modification he made to the original wine was to add aquavit to raise its alcohol content to preserve it during the long journey back to England.

 

Arriving in England, Marsala was a great success, which is why Woodhouse decided to become a wine entrepreneur, thanks to the large-scale production of wine.

 

Woodhouse was the first to start this thriving business; shortly after, other Englishmen settled in the areas between Palermo, Mazara del Vallo, and Marsala to begin their entrepreneurial activities. The most famous were Joseph Whitaker and Benjamin Ingham, figures who also imported new production techniques to Sicily.

 

Among local entrepreneurs, the potential of this trade started to be understood. The most famous was the Florio Family, who started to compete with the English. As a result, Cantine Florio was founded in 1832. From here, many other Sicilian entrepreneurs decided to get involved in this business, starting a significant development of Marsala up to export worldwide.

 

There were many ups and downs in the history of Marsala from 800 to today; in fact, in the years starting from the end of the 800, wine production stopped due to unpleasant events: phylloxera (an insect that destroyed entire crops), the ouster of the British by the fascist regime, the insertion in the market of dishonest entrepreneurs who sold poor quality wine, passing it off as Marsala. That's why, in the 1930s, Marsala was one of the first wines to receive the Denomination of Controlled Origin (DOC).

Today many wineries produce Marsala, managed by people who with passion have preserved its great value and the work of those who still make it today according to the traditional cultivation method, with very high-quality levels of control and production.

 

For this reason, we have selected, and included in our Ultimate Sicilian Wine Tour, the best wineries, especially in the Trapani and Marsala area, to help you discover the Sicilian excellence of Marsala wine. As you have read, its history is very particular and full of further curiosities, which our guests will learn in the company of passionate sommeliers.

 

We mainly address wine lovers who can't wait to discover (and above all taste!) the fascinating history of Sicilian wine. Do not hesitate to contact us for more details.

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