What are Volcanic Wines

February 19, 2024

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Volcanic wines, a fascinating niche within viticulture, embody a unique and distinct character derived from the terroir of volcanic soils.

Emerging from regions where volcanic activity has left its mark, these wines boast unparalleled qualities that reflect the dynamic interplay between vines and volcanic landscapes.

Let’s dive into the details.

Exploring Volcanic Wines

volcanic wine in front of a beautiful landscape

What Makes Wines Volcanic?

Volcanic wines stand out due to their unique features shaped by the volcanic soils where grapes grow. Let’s uncover what makes these wines distinct, focusing on their flavors, scents, and mineral content.

1.     Special Smells

Volcanic soils give wines a unique scent, often with hints of smokiness, flint, and earthiness. These unique smells make volcanic wines different from others.

2.     Rich in Minerals

Grapes in volcanic soils soak up many minerals, affecting the wine’s taste, which is why they belong to the Old World Wine classification. This mineral richness adds flavors like saltiness and complexity.

3.     Lively and Fresh

Volcanic landscapes contribute to a lively acidity in the grapes, resulting in wines with freshness and a vibrant taste. This acidity enhances the overall balance of volcanic wines.

4.     Bursting with Fruit Flavors

Despite the volcanic influence, these wines still showcase expressive fruit flavors. The mix of volcanic soils and grape varieties creates a blend of fruit notes ranging from citrus to tropical fruits.

5.     Terroir-Driven Complexity

Volcanic wines are known for their terroir-driven complexity. The geological impact of volcanic soils gives the wine a sense of place, allowing enthusiasts to trace the grapes’ unique origin and journey.

Regions Known for Volcanic Wines

Certain regions worldwide have gained renown for producing exceptional volcanic wines, each boasting a distinct terroir shaped by the influence of volcanic soils.

Let’s discover these notable wine-producing regions, exploring the diversity of terroirs that contribute to the allure of volcanic wines.

1.     Santorini, Greece

Santorini is a prominent region where vineyards on volcanic soil produce wines with a remarkable mineral character. The island’s unique terroir, shaped by volcanic activity, imparts a distinctiveness to its wines.

2.     Etna, Sicily, Italy

The slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily harbor vineyards on volcanic soil, creating wines celebrated for their elegance and complexity. The volcanic terroir contributes to the vibrant acidity and rich mineral nuances in Etna wines.

3.     Canary Islands, Spain

The Canary Islands, specifically Tenerife and Lanzarote, are recognized for their vineyards on volcanic terrain. Wines from these regions exhibit a unique interplay of volcanic influences, presenting a diverse spectrum of flavors and aromas.

4.     Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA

In the Willamette Valley, volcanic soils contribute to the terroir diversity of Oregon’s wine production. Pinot Noir and other varietals grown in volcanic-rich soils showcase a balance of fruit expression and earthy undertones.

5.     La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain

La Palma, another Canary Island, boasts vineyards on volcanic slopes. Wines from this region capture the essence of the volcanic landscape, offering a unique taste marked by minerality and freshness.

Volcanic Soils and Grape Growing

people drinking volcanic wine

The impact of volcanic soils on grapevines is a fascinating tale in winemaking. Let’s explore how these particular soils shape grape growing, contributing to the overall quality of wines.

We’ll uncover the relationship between volcanic terroir and the resilience of grapevines, all in simpler terms.

1.     Rich in Minerals

Volcanic soils are full of essential minerals like potassium and magnesium. These minerals give grapes a unique taste, making the wine more enjoyable.

2.     Resilient Grapevines

Grapevines in volcanic areas are brutal and can handle the challenges of the terrain. Their ability to adapt makes them strong and contributes to the health of the vines.

3.     Impact on Flavor

The volcanic soil affects how the grapes taste. Wines from volcanic regions often have flavors like smokiness and minerality, making them different from others.

4.     Boosting Grape Acidity

Volcanic areas make grapes more acidic. This acidity adds a fresh and balanced taste to the wine, making it enjoyable.

5.     Good for Water

Volcanic soils can hold water well but also let it drain. This is good for grapevines because they get enough water without being too wet.

Varieties of Volcanic Wines

Types of Grapes in Volcanic Wines

Volcanic wines boast diverse grape varieties that thrive in the unique terroir of volcanic soils.

Let’s delve into the grape varieties commonly associated with volcanic wines and uncover their distinctive expressions, shaping the captivating profiles of wines from volcanic regions.

1.     Assyrtiko

Assyrtiko, a white grape variety, is prominently associated with volcanic wines from Santorini, Greece. Known for its high acidity and mineral notes, Assyrtiko expresses the essence of the volcanic terroir.

2.     Nerello Mascalese

This red grape variety is found on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy. Nerello Mascalese produces wines with an elegant structure, vibrant acidity, and flavors ranging from red berries to smoky minerality.

3.     Listán Negro

Common in the Canary Islands, particularly Tenerife, Listán Negro is a red grape variety known for creating wines with lively acidity, floral aromas, and a volcanic-driven character.

4.     Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir thrives in volcanic soils in regions like Willamette Valley in Oregon. The volcanic influence adds complexity, contributing to Pinot Noir wines’ red fruit flavors and earthy undertones.

5.     Carricante

Carricante, a white grape variety grown on Mount Etna, Sicily, produces wines with crisp acidity, citrus notes, and a distinct minerality attributed to the volcanic terroir.

Wine Styles and Varietals in Volcanic Regions

Volcanic regions give rise to a captivating diversity of wine styles and varietals, where the unique terroir imparts distinct characteristics. Let’s explore the spectrum, from reds to whites, and unravel the rich tapestry of volcanic wines.

1.     Assyrtiko Wines (White)

Assyrtiko, flourishing in the volcanic soils of Santorini, Greece, produces white wines with high acidity, citrus notes, and a crisp minerality. These wines epitomize the purity of volcanic expression.

2.     Nerello Mascalese Wines (Red)

Grown on the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy, Nerello Mascalese yields red wines known for their elegance, vibrant acidity, and a complex interplay of red fruit flavors and volcanic nuances.

3.     Listán Negro Wines (Red)

Found in the volcanic terroir of the Canary Islands, Listán Negro red wines exhibit lively acidity, floral aromas, and a volcanic-driven character that adds a unique dimension to their profile.

4.     Pinot Noir Wines (Red)

Thriving in the volcanic soils of Willamette Valley, Oregon, Pinot Noir red wines showcase a balance of red fruit flavors, earthy undertones, and the complexity imparted by the volcanic influence.

5.     Carricante Wines (White)

Carricante, grown on Mount Etna in Sicily, produces white wines with crisp acidity, citrus vibrancy, and a distinct minerality. These wines embody the elegance and volcanic essence of the terroir.

Food Pairing Recommendations for Volcanic Wines

volcanic wine food pairing

Pairing wines with the right food enhances the tasting experience, creating a symphony of flavors. Let’s explore suitable food pairings that complement the distinct characteristics of volcanic wines, ensuring a harmonious union on the palate.

1.     Assyrtiko Whites from Santorini, Greece

Assyrtiko whites’ crisp acidity and citrus vibrancy make them a delightful companion for seafood dishes. Try pairing it with grilled prawns, oysters, or a fresh Greek salad to accentuate the wine’s refreshing qualities.

2.     Nerello Mascalese Reds from Mount Etna, Italy

The elegant and complex profile of Nerello Mascalese reds pairs well with earthy flavors. To complement the wine’s nuances, consider serving it with wild mushroom risotto, truffle-infused pasta, or herb-roasted lamb.

3.     Listán Negro Reds from the Canary Islands

Listán Negro reds, with their lively acidity, marry beautifully with grilled meats. Opt for pairings like barbecued ribs, char-grilled steak, or Moroccan-spiced lamb for a harmonious blend of flavors.

4.     Pinot Noir Reds from Willamette Valley, Oregon

The balanced and fruit-forward nature of Pinot Noir from volcanic soils makes it versatile. Try pairing with roasted duck, salmon, or a classic mushroom risotto for a delightful culinary experience.

5.     Carricante Whites from Mount Etna, Italy

Carricante whites, with their crisp acidity, complement the lighter fare. Consider pairing it with grilled chicken, seafood pasta, or a refreshing citrus-infused salad to highlight the wine’s brightness.

Industry Recognition and Awards

Notable Achievements of Volcanic Wines

The world of volcanic wines has witnessed remarkable achievements, with notable awards and industry recognition attesting to their excellence.

Let’s delve into the accolades received by volcanic wines and explore their impact on the wine industry.

1.     Santorini Assyrtiko’s International Acclaim

With its crisp acidity and distinct minerality, Santorini Assyrtiko has garnered international acclaim. It has received prestigious awards in major wine competitions, positioning itself as a global standard-bearer for volcanic whites.

2.     Nerello Mascalese’s Triumph on Mount Etna

Wines crafted from Nerello Mascalese grapes, thriving on the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna, have stood out in wine competitions. Their complex profiles and unique terroir expression have earned accolades, contributing to this region’s rising prominence of wines.

3.     The Canary Islands Listán Negro’s Distinction

Volcanic Wine Awards: Listán Negro wines from the Canary Islands have achieved distinction in the wine industry. Their lively acidity and volcanic character have been recognized, with awards highlighting their unique contribution to the diversity of volcanic wines.

4.     Oregon’s Pinot Noir Excellence

Pinot Noir wines from volcanic soils in Oregon have received accolades for their balanced and nuanced expressions. These awards underscore the quality and impact of volcanic terroir on Pinot Noir, solidifying its place in the global wine landscape.

5.     Mount Etna’s Carricante Making Waves

Carricante whites from Mount Etna have earned recognition for their crisp acidity and minerality. Awards and accolades have highlighted the exceptional qualities of Carricante, contributing to the growing reputation of wines from this volcanic region.


Volcanic wines testify to the extraordinary interplay between terroir and grape varietals in the vast winemaking landscape. As we conclude our exploration, let’s reflect on the unique qualities of volcanic wines, their diverse growing regions, and their profound significance in viticulture.

1. Distinctive Profiles: Volcanic wines captivate with their distinct profiles, shaped by the mineral-rich soils and unique terroir. From the zesty Assyrtiko whites to the elegant Nerello Mascalese reds, each sip unfolds a narrative of volcanic landscapes.

2. Diverse Growing Regions: Spanning across Santorini, Mount Etna, the Canary Islands, and Oregon’s Willamette Valley, volcanic regions showcase the adaptability of vines to their surroundings. The diverse expressions of grapes in these regions contribute to the richness of the global wine tapestry.

3. Significance in Viticulture: Volcanic wines have transcended local acclaim, receiving international recognition and prestigious awards. The unique qualities derived from volcanic terroir make these wines stand out and contribute to the broader conversation on the impact of terroir on wine quality.

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