An offer he couldn't refuse


How a famed Tuscan enologist was lured to Tuscany

Paolo Caciorgna, the acclaimed Tuscan enologist who makes wines for stellar estates like Montalcino's Altesino and La Serena as well as for music stars Sting and Andrea Bocelli, never planned to make wine on Sicily's Mount Etna.

But 15 years ago, longtime friend and American importer Marco de Grazia invited Caciorgna to his newly founded Tenute delle Terre Nere on the volcano's north-facing slopes.

That was at the very beginning of the renaissance of Etna's once-forgotten vineyards—a rebirth that has since made it one of Italy's hottest wine areas. 

"I was happy to be with Marco and to help a little bit," Caciorgna says one bright spring morning when Etna's peak—nearly 7,000 feet above the highest vineyards—is billowing white smoke. "He wanted to pay me, but I said, 'No." 

But de Grazia was intent on having Caciorgna become a fixture of Etna's burgeoning wine scene and frequently called him with scouting reports of vineyards for sale. 

Caciorgna demurred: "I loved the terroir, but I didn't think I could be a producer here." 

De Grazia finally made Caciorgna a gift he couldn't refuse. "In 2006, we were in Marco's cellar, and he said, 'You see those three barrels? That's your wine.'" 

"He pulled me in!" Caciorgna says with a the full blog at