Giacomo Rallo, along with wife Gabriella, daughter José and son Antonio began the Donnafugata story in 1983 in the family’s cellars in Marsala and at the Contessa Entellina vineyards in western Sicily.
The family proudly see their wines as a “passionate interpretation of Sicily and its sensorial universe”, with a great focus placed on bringing together people and nature to explore the potential of their local area. The company believes that “great wine reflects the land of its origin”, with soil, exposure, altitude, climate and wines coming together as an expression of their unique terroir.
This passion for their region and what it produces is palpable, with the whole company existing as a tribute to their beloved Sicily. The name Donnafugata translates as “woman in flight”, and is a nod to the history of Queen Maria Carolina, who fled Naples after the arrival of Napoleon’s troops, seeking refuge in the part of Sicily where the winery's vineyards now stand. This event also inspired the Donnafugata logo, the image of a woman’s face with hair blowing in the wind found on every bottle.
What goes into each bottle is part of a carefully monitored process, which begins by matchmaking the right grapes to the right landscape, sensitively watching their interaction with the environment and conducting frequent on-site grape tastings so they are picked at the optimum moment. A team of experts undertake continual tastings as the wine develops to link the product to the gorals of the fruit and terroir.
Multiple native and international varieties are cultivated in 10 different terroirs across three properties – Contessa Entellina, Marsala and Pantelleria. Each estate has a shared commitment to sustainable agriculture, with the company understanding its responsibility for the ecological and cultural development of the territory. Initiatives have ranged from environmental building design to clean energy to biodiversity and landscape protection.
This understanding of the company’s impact on the future extends beyond the environment to cultural treasures, with a dedication to promoting and protecting cultural heritage, as well as smaller initiatives such as CDs that raise funds for the local territory.
Through their unwavering passion and attention to detail, Donnafugata have created an extraordinary range of wines and an enduring legacy. It is a company with a deep sense of history, a focus on making their best wine with their land, and a humbling understanding of preserving their ways for the future that shows the best is yet to come.