Giusto Occhipinti COS Winery, Vittoria Sicily, Natural Wine, Amphora Wine, Primal Wine -
Natural Wine Producers

COS: A Sicilian Winery

COS winery, located on the extreme south-eastern tip of Sicily, not too far from African shores, was founded in 1980 by three lifelong friends: Gianbattista Cilia, Cirino Strano, and Giusto Occhipinti. The name of the winery is simply the acronym of their last names' initials.

Their idea of wine is best expressed in their own words:

“Wine is body, substance, blood of a fruit nourished by the light of the sun and the deep womb of the earth. Wine is work, it is the product of knowledge intervening on matter and shaping it, guiding it in a new direction. Wine is also patience, it is the rhythm that regulates the seasons, each of man’s movements and the long waits, dictated by the experience of those who know that nature must be given time because they know the nature of time. Wine is art, art being the force that captures chaos, and gives it order and meaning. This is an art that does not reveal itself to anyone but only to those that can catch the nuances making up its identity.”

When Giusto and the crew started, they were among the youngest vignerons in Sicily and among the very first pioneers of low intervention winemaking, biodynamic farming and the use of clay amphorae, which back then was unheard of. All these were factors that, in a Sicilian landscape that was in the midst of a California-aping era populated by hyper-oaked fruit bomb giants, sounded just a wee bit less intimidating than witchcraft.

Giusto Occhipinti COS Winery Amphora Room in Vittoria Sicily, Natural Wine, Amphora Wine, Primal Wine -

The crew began their adventure by renting from Giuseppe Cilia, Gianbattista’s father, his cellar and the nearby alberello-trained vineyard. On 5 October 1980, COS was born. The first harvest was followed by a small production - only 1,470 bottles - made using both old barrels and amphorae. Fast forward 40 years - after years of earnest work and maniacal focus on quality - COS is now the symbol of Cerasuolo di Vittoria and its terroir renaissance.

Giusto, Giuseppe, and Cirino have been able to establish COS as one of the most innovative wineries in Sicily. In 2000 they give light to Pithos, the first Cerasuolo di Vittoria entirely fermented and aged in amphora, while in 2007 they abandon all together all use of wooden vessels producing every single wine in 150 large clay amphoras made in Southern Spain (the most similar to the ones used in Sicily in ancient times).

COS estate spans over 30 hectares in the heart of the Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG denomination, right between the enchanting burgs of Acate and Vittoria. This area of Sicily is characterized by African and Middle-Eastern influences: from the architecture to the almond and carob orchards and of course the ever-present vineyards. The soils are largely silicate and clay-based, rich in nutrients and often hiding age-old treasures from Roman or even Phoenician times.

Giusto, Giuseppe, and Cirino, despite being innovators, are fully aware of Sicily's rich history. COS wines pay tribute to this millennia-old heritage, avoiding market trends to reinterpret Sicily's 3,000 years old viticulture and winemaking tradition. COS wines are wines of place, work, heart and most of all art.

Author: Giovanni Segni ©