If you go to your wine store’s Italian wine section chances are you’ll see this woman as she appears on all of the labels of one of Sicily’s most famous wineries. In fact, the winery is named after her. Who is this person? She was the Queen of Naples & Sardinia who in 1805 fled Naples from Napoleon’s invading troops and took refuge in Sicily. Donnafugata literally means the “woman in flight.” This event inspired the Donnafugata logo, the effigy of a woman’s head with windblown hair.
The fugitive Queen well knew about political unrest and being captured by the enemy. Her younger sister, Marie Antoinette, had been beheaded. After the beheading, the Queen led Naples into war with France, joining forces with Great Britain and Austria. If captured by Napoleon’s army, she would have been in grave danger of the guiollotine.
The actual estate where the Queen sought asylum in Sicily is now the site of the Donnafugata winery and vineyards. In the 1980’s this >700 acre property began producing wines. Today, it is an internationally prestigious company producing 2.5 million bottles annually. Its high quality wines have received enumerable awards around the globe, as well as top scores from the Wine Spectator and a host of critics such as Robert Parker.
If you’re coming on the 2014 tour to Sicily, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Donnafugata estate for a private dinner. If not, the winery has an excellent penetration in the US, so buy a bottle and have a toast to the “woman in flight.”