Assovini Sicilia celebrates 25 years since its founding

Assovini Sicilia celebrates 25 years since its founding

Assovini Sicilia celebrated a double anniversary this year: twenty-five years since its founding and twenty years since the first edition of Sicilia en Primeur.

A special event, held in Cefalù from 9 to 11 May during Sicilia en Primeur 2024, the preview of the latest vintage dedicated to the press. A record edition with over one hundred journalists, including national and foreign press, ten enotours, five masterclasses, fifty-nine wineries and over three hundred labels for tasting.

Cultivating the Future, the claim chosen for this edition, takes stock of the first twenty-five years, emphasizing Assovini Sicilia‘s role as a leading player and witness to the Sicilian wine renaissance.

Diego Planeta, Lucio Tasca d’Almerita and Giacomo Rallo signed the articles of association of Assovini Sicilia in 1998. Eight wineries were the first to join the association, endorsing that far-sighted, courageous, revolutionary vision, which saw associationism as a winning strategy to promote Sicily.

Twenty-five years later, the dream of the “founding fathers” to attribute cultural, promotional and storytelling value to Sicilian wine has been fully realized.

The strong wind of change and evolution continues to push the association forward, which, driven by the spirit of teamwork and system, has recently become a beacon in the wine scene, demonstrating not only that in Sicily, wine production is of quality, the managerial profile of the companies is competitive, and wine is a cultural ambassador to the world, but that the Sicily that knows how to team up is a winner.

“I am proud to represent an association that has always conveyed and promoted a contemporary image of Sicily, linked to traditions, dynamic, and elegant,” comments Mariangela Cambria, President of Assovini Sicilia. – Thanks to the courage of those who believed in associationism, defying all cultural resistance and, putting themselves on the line without protagonism, believing in teamwork, today, throughout the world, Sicily is a brand with a powerful and profound cultural value and international appeal. Assovini Sicilia was born from a vision and a plan that pushed the island towards new horizons, made it known throughout the world for its beauty and history. A story whose telling was entrusted to the narrative and symbolic power of wine. The great revolution of Assovini Sicilia was to believe in wine as a cultural product, with potential that is extraordinary and unique, before being economic.”

The story of these extraordinary twenty-five years, divided into multiple themes – the evolution of the vineyard, the cultural value of wine, perception in the American market, wine tourism and the Next Generation – was the heart of the “Cultivating the Future” conference, moderated by Gioacchino Bonsignore, a Mediaset journalist, inside the monumental complex of San Domenico in Cefalù.

The journalist retraced the history of Assovini Sicilia‘s associationism through the accounts of those who have supported the vision and path of the association over the years.

«It’s a bit like what happened with the Italian language: It was born in Dante’s Florence, in the fourteenth century, but the precursor is the Sicilian School of the court of the “Stupor Mundi“, Frederick II of Swabia, in the thirteenth century. Matteo Zoppas, president of Italian Trade Commission, who took part at the conference, praised Sicilian wines for their history and uniqueness and for their growth in foreign markets.

The “Previews” were born in the nineties in Tuscany, but it is “Sicilia en Primeur” with its formula, itinerant from the very beginning, two decades ago, that laid the foundations of contemporary communication, in which wine does not just show itself in the glass, but becomes the “medium” by which to talk about the beauty of the territories that make Sicily a true wine “continent”. For this reason, we can speak of a Sicilian “Renaissance” of wine in viticulture, in doing business and in image, the result of what is the true “miracle”: Having a shared vision that makes us stay united despite our diversities, and that inspired the three “tenors” of Sicilian wine, Diego Planeta, Giacomo Rallo and Lucio Tasca, and which today inspires the one hundred Assovini wineries”, – commented Alessandro Regoli, Editor-in-Chief of Winenews.

With Assovini Sicilia, the island has gone beyond its borders, reaching markets all over the world, represented by the quality of the wine. The labels of the members speak about history, culture and values. Everyone is aiming for exports: Europe confirms itself as the main export market, for 95.7% of the companies, followed by North America.

«I have witnessed the Sicilian wine renaissance firsthand over the past twenty years, and writing about the wines of Sicily has given me some of the most rewarding professional moments. I am deeply convinced that the bright future of Italian wine begins here, in Sicily, in the heart of the Mediterranean” – states Monica Lerner, an American journalist and wine critic for Robert Parker Wine Advocate.

Alessio Planeta, Antonio Rallo and Alberto Tasca, sons of the original founders, took up the torch and carried forward the initial plan of teamwork that laid the foundations of the winning “wine system” of Assovini Sicilia.

«I have always been convinced that collaborating and sharing long-term objectives is the right way to create value and promote our extraordinary wine-growing contexts.

Therefore, associationism for me has been and continues to be a successful path, which fully embodies the spirit of collaboration and commitment to excellence that characterizes Sicilian wine-growing,” comments Antonio Rallo, past president of Assovini and current President of the Consortium for the Protection of Sicily DOC wines.

Alessio Planeta defines the time span and history of the Sicilian vineyard in three emblematic eras: the enchantment of the past, the fervor of the 1980s and the vitality of the new millennium.

«Each stage tells a story, interwoven with numbers, trends and varieties that reflect our commitment to the future. It is not just an exercise in meditation, but a bridge to tomorrow, shaped by family experience and innovation. In a world where we export to 75 markets, operating in five different Sicilian regions, we rely on the wisdom of our predecessors, like my uncle Diego Planeta, and our vision,’ adds Alessio Planeta, CEO and President of Planeta Winery.

Over these twenty-five years, Assovini Sicilia‘s strength has been its ability to innovate and renew itself, embracing the spirit of the times as well as the new frontiers of green and contributing to the birth of the SOStain Sicilia Foundation.

«The experience of the SOStain Foundation integrates and fits in perfectly with the associationism of Assovini Sicilia. And so it is that, continuing in the wake of the positive experience of associationism taught to us by Assovini, the SOStain Sicilia Foundation was created in 2020, whose objective is to accompany wineries towards measuring the impact their actions have on the ecosystem. As many as 43 Sicilian wineries have joined the SOStain Sicilia Foundation to date. By networking, they exchange views on different topics, using confrontation not as a stance but as mutual growth,’ adds Alberto Tasca, president of the SOStain Sicilia Foundation.

Not only quality production and promotion abroad, Assovini Sicilia has won the bet on wine tourism as a tool for telling the story of the territory and its historical and wine-growing heritage.

Today, 84.8 % of the member companies have implemented a series of wine tourism services in their wineries that are true wine experiences, contributing to the evolution of wine tourism services from simple wine tastings to a part of experiential tourism.

In Sicily, the wine experience is a metaphor for a land that is changing and that has managed to enhance an asset, the wine industry, capable of representing our Sicily at its best,’ commented Marcello Mangia, president and CEO of Mangia’s – Aeroviaggi and host of the Sicilia en Primeur conference.

With its roots firmly anchored in tradition and the past, Assovini Sicilia is laying the foundations for the future by continuing to follow the winning trajectory and strategy that has led the association to celebrate these first twenty-five years successfully. The wineries are preparing for the generational transition: About 78% of the member wineries have already integrated a new generation into the company management. Within the association, the ‘Next Generation’ group has been created to represent the new generations of Assovini Sicilia, young people under 40 years of age who are already operational and family members within family businesses and who, guided by the example of Assovini, are committed to creating a team that looks to the future and to the enhancement of the Sicilian wine-growing territory. Among the new group’s main areas of intervention: communication, training and promotion of the territory.

«I believe that the NextGen of our entrepreneurial families have very clearly in mind what kind of ancestors they want to be: And this is how they will transform business models, here in Sicily and in the wine industry as in all sectors and geographical areas,’ Giovanna Gregori, executive director of AIDAF – Italian Family Business, commented during the conference.

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Sicilia en Primeur, the event conceived of and organized by Assovini Sicilia since 2004, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. An itinerant event that has based its success on a winning format: combining the preview of the latest vintage wines with visits to wineries and territories, telling the story of Sicily’s historical-archaeological and landscape beauties through the stories of wine.

«With Sicilia en Primeur, wine becomes an instrument of narration not only of the wine heritage but also of the human and historical heritage of Sicily. Wine is the leitmotif that unites the stories of the producers with those of the territories, weaves tales, joins pieces of a unique mosaic where Sicily is an extraordinary wine-growing continent,’ President Mariangela Cambria concludes.

Inaugurated on 7 May with the enotours – one hundred journalists visiting the island’s wineries and territories – Sicilia en Primeur 2024 made a stop in Cefalù from 9 to 11 May, at Mangia’s Resort in Pollina, where masterclasses, the Ais Sicilia grand tasting and group events bringing together journalists, producers, institutions and sponsors were held.

An absolute must is the focus on the latest vintage – whose report was entrusted to Mattia Filippi of Uva Sapiens – and on the excellence of the wine production of Assovini Sicilia companies, recounted via an ideal journey through the diversity of the island’s territories during the five masterclasses conducted by the past presidents (Alessio Planeta, Francesco Ferreri, Antonio Rallo) and Pietro Russo, Master of Wine from Sicily.



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