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Marsala, The English Wine

Villas in Sicily near Marsala

MarsalaA sea storm forced John Woodhouse to seek shelter in the port of Marsala in 1773. The Englishman, son of a tradesman from Liverpool, had arrived in the island to buy soda, which was then - along with coral and tuna fish - the most exported product from Trapani region.

He tasted the local Grillo wine in a small “trattoria”, and was charmed by its particular bouquet, very similar to the more expensive Sherry and Madeira, so popular among English navy officers who were his major buyers. In order to export this special wine to England, he added some alcohol to it so that it could survive the long sea voyage. English customers gave this newly invented wine a great welcome. They appreciated it as a rival of both the Spanish and Portuguese wines in the European market.

Marsala resisted the sea journey to England and became part of the normal supplies for the Royal Navy. In 1800 Admiral Nelson signed a written order for a supply of 500 gallon barrels in favour of the British Navy monitoring the Mediterranean Sea during Napoleonic Wars. Woodhouse was followed by a large number of English tradesmen, as for example Benjamin Ingham and his grandchildren (among them Joseph Whitaker is worth mentioning), who set up their wineries in Marsala. They enhanced the winemaking techniques and bought several renowned Bagli along the coast, restoring them for their wine production.

Villas in Sicily near Marsala

Vineyard in Western Sicily

Barriques in Marsala

Marsala Florio

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