Following up on the overview we did on the stunning island wine region of Sardinia and our discussion about the wines of Sardinia, we naturally thought it best to create a travel guide and itinerary for visiting some of the best wineries in Sardinia. Plus, learn about a variety of Sardinia wines to try that are available to enjoy at home. We highly recommend that you wet your palate before your trip to familiarize yourself.
Technically part of Italy, Sardinia is an island in the Mediterranean that sits between Italy and Africa and offers a distinct experience that is uniquely Sardinian. It’s fairly easy to get to, though you’re flying from the US you’ll likely have to connect once in Europe. Rome offers the most domestic flights to Sardinia, though plenty of other major European airports offer short-haul flights. Be sure to peruse flight options with search sites like Kayak and snag deals as they arise.
There are a couple of vineyard hotels, or “Agriturismos” on the island for Winetravelers who prefer to use a vineyard as a home base. Wine Resort Leda’ d’Ittiri is a cute Bnb-style hotel with impeccable service, upscale rooms and a relaxed vibe. If you’re feeling luxurious, your best bet is to stay on the stunning 5-star Grand Hotel Poltu Quatu property, which offers balconies with coastal marina views, upscale dining and wines sourced just down the road.
Tours & Getting Around
You can always rent a car once you arrive in Sardinia, but we always suggest using a local guide, or better yet, a local sommelier, to take you around the island. There are few more qualified than Alessandro with Culture Sardinia who can be your private guide on the island for the day.
For those traveling as a family, both kids and parents will enjoy the experience offered by Sardaigne en Liberté, which includes hiking and trails riding Sardinian donkeys, in addition to local wine tastings and other hidden gastronomic gems.
If either of the aforementioned experiences are sold out or unavailable, our local friend Franco is incredibly passionate about his island, and will happily pick you up from your hotel and will show you some of the best sights and flavors on the island from a local perspective. This particular tour leaves from the town of Cagliari.
Top Wineries in Sardinia To Visit
Sardus Pater Winery
Located on the island of Sant’Antioco on the southwestern part of Sardinia, Sardus Pater (Father of the Sardinians) began production in 1955 but has been an established cooperative since 1949. Sardus Pater was the name of a Nuraghic god depicted on a coin minted in Sant’Antioco before the arrival of the Romans.
“In Roman times Pliny the Elder called Sant’Antioco “Aenosis Insula”, or the Island of Wine”, says winemaker, Francesco Bertagna. “This is a strong and ever-present link— it’s thought that the Phoenicians brought Carignano, the oldest and most typical of our vines.”
The sandy soil makes the vines resistant to phylloxera so when most vineyards around Europe were destroyed, the vines in Sant’Antioco were spared. Because of this, some vines are upwards of 150 years old! There are 140 members that tend to over 200 hectares (almost 500 acres) of which mostly Carignano (Carignan) is grown.
In 1994, they began production of Vermentino as well.
“We grow Vermentino (10 hectares), Monica (2 hectares), and a very low production of Moscato and Nasco that we use to make passito wines”, says Bertagna. “Last year we experimented with making a white vinified Carignano (1000 bottles) that had great success.”
Tastings: The winery currently has a small tasting room but will be expanding to offer a rooftop tasting experience soon.
Tenute Sella & Mosca
Founded by two men from Piedmont in 1899, today Sella & Mosca has over 550 hectares (1360 acres) under vine in the Alghero area of Sardinia. The landscape is stunning—set among what is known as Mediterranean scrub—oleander, maritime pine trees, palm trees, and eucalyptus overlooking the sea. These factors also contribute to the complexity of the wines, imparting herbal and saline qualities.
The winery produces Vermentino, Carignano (Carignan), Cannonau (Grenache), and Cabernet in a variety of styles. Most interestingly though, are the bottlings made with Torbato—a white variety now grown exclusively in northwest Sardinia. This once almost extinct grape was revived by Sella & Mosca and is used in a single varietal sparkling and still wines.
Experiences: The tasting room is open year-round and specialized tours are available as well. Options include trips around the estate, the historic winery, barrel room, historic museum and the vineyards. The museum visit includes explanations of the Anghelu Ruju Necropolis archaeological site found during excavations on the winery’s grounds! Does it get any better?
“Mesa” means table in both Sardinian and Spanish—the name was chosen to represent the nourishment of the Sardinian land to the wines produced. Cantina Mesa has a few vineyard plots in the Sulcis area, many of them are located in Sant’Anna Arresi—a valley surrounded by the sea with great cover from the mistral winds. More than 78 hectares (192 acres) are under vine, planted with 30 hectares of Vermentino, and 35 of Carignano. A mixture of alberello (bush training) and cordon trained vines are planted depending on the given terrain.
In 2017, Santa Margherita began to represent Cantina Mesa so you can expect to see more of these premium Sardinian wines in the U.S. soon.
Tastings: Within their wine shop is a tasting room to try their wines accompanied by a guided tasting.
Cantina di Santadi
Santadi, located in the Sulcis area (on the southwestern side of Sardinia) was established in 1960. The winery has over 600 hectares (1483 acres) of vines that (like many others in Sardinia) were not affected by phylloxera and therefore are ungrafted rootstock. These old vines offer a complexity that comes through in all three lines they produce.
Santadi makes a wide array of styles within their three lines: Grotta Rossa (entry-level), Rocca Rubia (Riserva), and Terre Brune (Superiore). The grape they work most with is Carignano but they also make many styles using Vermentino, Nuragus and Nasco.
Cantina di Calasetta
Founded in 1932, Cantina di Calasetta is the oldest winery in Sardinia. It is located on the Sant’Antioco island in the southwest of Sardinia. The ungrafted vines are bush-trained on sandy soils and are upwards of a hundred years old!
“The original roots are very deep and the plants are less vigorous and not very productive,” says winemaker, Fabio Vitillo. “This gives a higher concentration of polyphenolic and aromatic compounds.”
While the winery has been producing wine for decades, it used to deal mostly in bulk wine for other regions. However, after seeing the potential of the grapes grown, they switched gears and began bottling their own wine under the thoughtful guidance of Vitillo. The first estate bottling was in 2008.
“Being able to understand what the true potentials of each variety are, and study what are the vinification techniques that allow the grape variety to express itself at its best, always respecting the terroir,” says Vitillo. “Really getting to know the grapes you work with is a long process that takes years and a lot of research.”
Their 200 hectares (494 acres) are mostly grown with Carignan, and there is also a small percentage of Vermentino and Moscato. Vitillo’s philosophy is to make wines that show their origin.
“Once you have healthy and quality grapes, you can work on the wines as little as possible, preserving the characteristics of the vine and the terroir. I try to make the variety the protagonist by working the native vines without blending them with other varieties, using barrique only as a tool for micro-oxygenation and not as a ‘wine flavoring’.”
Argiolas is a family winery, now run by the third generation of the Argiolas family. The 250 hectares (618 acres) were first planted by Antonio Argiolas in 1906. The winery makes an array of styles using native grapes like Carignan, Nuragus, Nasco, Monica, Vermentino, and Grenache.
The winery is committed to sustainability saying, “we cultivate vines and produce wines with sustainable methods that respect the land. We use water and soil responsibly: we irrigate rationally, we minimize the use of chemicals, we use a pruning technique that prolongs the life of the strains. Thus we guard our land, its wealth of life, its nature.”
Experiences: They are also very involved in hospitality and loves to host guests. They offer wine tastings, tours of the winery, and cooking classes with local chefs teaching traditional dishes. The Argiolas Wine Bar at Cagliari Airport welcomes travelers right away. It’s also the perfect spot for a glass before leaving the majestic island.
As if Sardina was not remote enough, U-Tabarka took it one step further and began cultivation on its own private island—S. Pietro. Its 7 hectares (17 acres) sit on volcanic soils in the Carloforte area of the island. It is the only winery on the island. Donned with a flamingo (a common sight on the island) on the label, they produce many styles from native grapes—Carignano, Bovale (Bovaleddu), Nasco, Moscato, and Vermentino. These are all aged in steel and glass, never oak.
All of the vines are ungrafted and the winery prefers minimal human intervention saying, “each vintage is the daughter of days of sun, wind, and rain that plants have lived. Each vintage is special, peculiar.”
Tastings: Vineyard tastings are available at this unique winery on the private island of S. Pietro.
Sardinian Wines to Try at Home
Not headed to Sardinia any time soon and still want to open up a peppery and robust Carignano or an herbal and saline Vermentino? Here are some bottlings that are easy to find in the United States:
Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna
Sella & Mosca ‘Riserva’ Cannonau di Sardegna
Sella & Mosca Carignano del Sulcis Terre Rare Riserva
Sardus Pater Cannonau di Sardegna Foras
Sardus Pater Insula
Sardus Pater Is Solus Carignano Del Sulcis
Argiolas Rosato Serra Lori
Argiolas Vermentino di Sardegna Costamolino
Mesa Buio Buio Carignano Reserve
Cantina Mesa Giunco Vermentino
Santadi Carignano del Sulcis Riserva Rocca Rubia
Grotta Rossa Carignano del Sulcis
Santadi Vermentino di Sardegna Villa Solais
Cantina Calasetta Carignano Del Sucis Piedefranco
U Tabarka Giancu Vermentino di Sardegna
U Tabarka Roussou Carignano del Sulcis
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