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Vinitaly 2016: Sicilian producers focus on UK as a main export market

Published:  11 April, 2016

Sicilian producers are looking to develop a stronger regional identity in the UK for wines and other agricultural products such as olive oil, in an effort to further drive growth.

At VinItaly 2016, being held in Verona from April 10 to 12, 2016, many producers said they are focusing on improving the image of Sicilian wines.

There has been a noticeable a shift away from commercial bulk wine towards the more premium, high-end wines being exported from Sicily, but more collaboration is needed in the region.

Director of the Istituto Regionale Vini e Oli di Sicilia, Lucio Giuseppe Monte, said: "The promotion of quality as well as the collaboration between the producers has been a main priority."

While the region is working to better the image of Sicily, working together still can be a challenge. According to Giuseppe Figlioli, the winemaker for Birgi Vini, "competition is high".

By focusing on the quality of the wines that are coming from DOC Sicilia, the regional body is having some success.

"The DOC Sicilia is doing a good job," said Federico Cerami, sales manager of Birgi Vini.

Credits: Foto Ennevi-Veronafiere

The agency is focusing more on the US market as well at the moment as they are running a big marketing campaign there.

Sicily has the advantage that it offers a "mosaic of flavours" and different tastes compared to the rest of Italian wines, as Lorenzo Barbera, marketing manager of Tasca, points out. Tasca, is one of the biggest producers in Sicily and includes five estates across the island. The company focuses on sustainability.

The focus for the regional association and individual producers includes the UK, US and German markets. According to Monte, those three markets represent 90% of the exports.  

"The reasons for this focus are, on the one hand, the buying potential of consumers and their enjoyment of Mediterranean products. On the other hand the high number of Sicilian immigrants living within those markets helps," explained Barbera.

Within the UK, London is a major focus where producers are trying to increase sales with events and social media campaigns. On April 19 is Tasca's "aperitivo" at Iddu in South Kensington.

Many producers feel optomistic and that the image of Sicilian wines are changing and moving towards a brighter future.