Four years ago, I received a message from someone I didn’t know. Kari said she found Etna Wine School on Facebook. She lived in Sicily for a time and, like me, she had fallen in love with the people and the wines of the volcano. Now she was living in the US and publishing books about Southern Italy.
“Would you like to write a book about Mount Etna. And the wine?” she asked, over Skype.
I think I probably waited a second or two. I wanted to be sure I heard it right. “I’d love to!”
The moment I signed the publishing contract two of my worlds converged. I received a university degree in writing before I worked as a cellarman, in California and eventually on Etna. It was a very happy moment, but I also knew I had to get to work.
Over the next year, I set out to gather as much data as I could find: names of producers, addresses, what wines they were making, and which neighborhood (contrada) they were in. It was a lot of information, but it wasn’t enough.
I felt like the project could go a lot further. Over months I arranged interviews and read books that led me to memoirs and captains’ logs, the tribulations of the monastic bureaucracy, and the names merchants used to identify the flavors of wines found in Etna’s neighborhoods . Slowly, the book began to take shape.
I wrote well into 2017. After the first draft of the manuscript was submitted, Jason Johnson flew to Etna with his cameras. Over ten days and two trips, he captured the images featured in the book.
Over the next two years we painstakingly went over every inch of the text four(teen) more times.
This book would not be what it is without the guidance of my editor, Sally. Sally, thank you !
This first edition of The New Wines of Mount Etna (#NWOME) is divided into three parts.
The first third is dedicated to the vine growing and winemaking practices currently in use on the mountain, and long lists of wines worth trying. The second narrates a history of wine spanning thousands of years on the slopes of the volcano. The third connects you to more than one hundred wineries that are responsible for breathing new life into an ancient wine region.
Did you catch that first edition that I dropped into the paragraph above? Yes, we will be updating this book as things on Etna change. While we won’t do it every year, the Etna landscape is evolving so quickly that it stands to reason we will need to amend our data regularly.
In the coming weeks and months we will also be releasing an ePub (Kindle, etc.) as well as a lighter version of the book, for those who are interested in creating their own Etna story without the hassle of lugging a 1 lb. book around.
With that, I’ll send this post out into the universe and let the books fall where they may. I’m going to have a beer.