Giusto Occhipinti of COS is a benchmark producer in the Vittoria appellation of Sicily, and certainly one of the most important, influential, producers in all of Sicily if not Italy as a whole. The winery was founded in 1980 by three friends, Giambattista Cilia, Giusto Occhipinti, and Cirino Strano. The initials of their last names form the winery’s name.
The winery itself dates back to the 1880’s during a period in which there was huge demand for Sicilian wines. Phylloxera had already devastated many of the world’s top wine growing regions but it had not yet reached the island. Sicily has a long history of winemaking, dating back to the 8th century BCE when the Greeks first planted grapes in the eastern part of the Island. It is only more recently though that true top quality wines and winemaking have arrived there. It was through the hard work and dedication of producers such as COS who showed the potential of Sicily’s terroir and drew attention to the island, especially its ability to produce complex, pure and fresh wines, despite its location at the very southern tip of Italy.
This freshness and balance are helped by the soils in the Vittoria region which are blessed with limestone substrates under 1-2 feet of red clay. For Giusto, “the vineyard is like our life’s savings in the bank, so we must protect it.” Protecting it means that they work organically and biodynamically in order to support the health of the soil. In fact, they have never used any synthetic or chemical additives in the vineyard since the outset in 1980. Officially, the winery was an early practitioner of Biodynamic viticulture starting in 2000, and were certified (Organic) as of 2007. The climate of Vittoria is also generally warm and dry making it well-adapted to organic & biodynamic viticulture. Giusto and his vineyard team also prepare many of the Biodynamic treatments in house, though a few are purchased elsewhere from small, reputable sources for these important products.