Sicilian monks brought the first grape vines to Pico in the 15th century, choosing varietals that grew successfully on the slopes of Mount Etna. The plants thrived in the rich volcanic soil and today Pico is perhaps best known for its wine production. Hiking through the stone-walled vineyards with your private guide, you’ll learn about the singular growing conditions here, the impact of this unusual terroir and the history of wine production on the island. Your guide will then introduce you to some of Pico’s modern-day vintners at a local wine cooperative where you’ll have a chance to taste some local wines.
Your guide will pick you up from your hotel on Pico at the start of your tour and take you along the coast on foot and by car, weaving in and out of the vineyards that line the shore. The vineyards here are composed of small plots or ‘currais’ surrounded by low basalt walls that shield the vines from the wind and seawater but also absorb the heat of the sun during the day, slowly releasing it at night to give the grapes extra nourishment.
This system is so significant that the landscape, along with the houses, wine cellars, 19th-century manors, churches and associated ports, are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you walk, your guide will elaborate on the history of wine production on the island and the distinctive growing conditions here. You’ll learn about the high minerality of the volcanic soil, the rocky plot beds that enable good drainage and the influence of the sea. You’ll also hear about the verdelho, arinto and terrantez grape varietals and their particular uses.
Toward the end of the trail you’ll have a bit of time to explore on your own, following a straight path past an old Flemish windmill which you can climb for a panoramic view of the island and the vineyards below. At the end of the path you’ll meet your guide to drive over to the Madalena Wine Cooperative, where you’ll enjoy a tasting of six local wines before returning to your hotel.