Non-certified Organic farming. Located on the eastern slope of Mount Etna, the historic principal zone of winery production on Mount Etna. Zafferana is the name of this area, named after the abundant yellow ginestra flowers that grow here (�zaffro� is yellow in Arabic). This area of Etna is close to Catania and also the closest part of Etna to the Mediterranean Sea. The contrada where their vines are located is called Monte Ilice, situated between the towns of Trecastagni and Zafferana Etnea. Monte Ilice is an absolutely incredible slope, due east, that rises at least at a 45-degree angle, high on the slopes of Etna at 700 to 840 meters above sea level. Grottafumata works 1.4 hectares here, along with the help of the landowner who is in his eighties and still works the vines with his brother. Many of the vines are franchi di piede (planted on their own rootstock) and up to 100 years old.
Grottafumata currently makes one white and one red from the Monte Ilice contrada. Though their wines could take the Etna Bianco and Rosso DOC, Mauro and Mariangela have not sought the designation so as to work as naturally, dynamically, and independently as possible outside of the complex Italian wine bureaucracy. The Bianco is fermented for three days on the skins, then aged in stainless steel until bottling with full malolactic fermentation. It is principally a Carricante, Catarratto, and Minella blend. The Rosso is Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio (also called Nerello Mantellato locally). Both Cappuccio and Mantellato, which mean hat and cape respectively, refer to the large size of the leaves that shield the grapes from the sun. The soil here is incredibly loose, sandy, volcanic ash and the vines literally cling to the slopes. The low pH in this soil gives a white that is very round and honeyed, with its freshness driven more by an intense volcanic minerality than acidity. The influence of the sea and the ginestra flowers can also be felt. These wines are a fitting tribute to Etna's viticultural history and respectfully showcase its unique terroir without artifice.