Following up on this overview of the stunning island of Sardinia and this piece about the wines of Sardinia, here is your travel guide and itinerary to visiting key wineries in the area and bottles that are available to enjoy at home.

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

The island of Sardinia offers a wine tourism experience unlike any other.
The island of Sardinia offers a wine tourism experience unlike any other.

Sardinian Winery Itinerary: Top Sardinian Wine Producers 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.”

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.

The view across the vineyards at Cantina Mesa on a gorgeous sunny day in Sardinia.
The view across the vineyards at Cantina Mesa on a gorgeous sunny day in Sardinia. Image courtesy Carrie Dykes.

Cantina Mesa

“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 undervine, 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. 

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.

Carignan, also known as Carignano in Sardinia, is one of the island's most well-known and popular grape varieties.
Carignan, also known as Carignano in Sardinia, is one of the island’s most well-known and popular grape varieties. Image courtesy Carrie Dykes.

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 aromatics 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 Winery

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.”

They are also very involved in hospitality (read more in the tourism section).

U-Tabarka

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 these 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.”

From the rolling green hills and hillscapes in the countryside, to the coast of Sardinia, you can expect great views and history dotted throughout the island.

More Wine Tourism Experiences You Can Expect at the Above Sardinian Wineries

Sardus Pater

The winery currently has a small tasting room but will be expanding to offer a rooftop tasting experience soon.

Sella & Mosca

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!

Cantina di Calasetta

Within their wine shop is a tasting room to try their wines accompanied by a guided tasting. 

Argiolas Winery

The winery loves to host guests and offers 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. 

U-Tabarka

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

Argiolas Perdera

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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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Carrie Dykes is wine writer and reviewer living in the Hudson Valley region of New York. Her by-line can be also be found in Hudson Valley Wine Magazine, InCider Japan, The Cork Report and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. She is an international wine judge for the IWSC, where she uses the skills she has learned in her WSET Diploma training. Follow her travel and wine adventures in Instagram @lilmarzipan.

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