You can taste Gozo’s fascinating history in its cuisine, which combines influences from all over the Mediterranean – including North African, Sicilian, and French.
Our blog post Our Guide To A Gozo Taste Experience provides an insight into our tasty, locally-produced bread, pastries, cheese, fruit, vegetables and fish, as well as the delicious range of boutique beer, wines, organic sea-salt, olive oil, honey and preserves that you can enjoy while on holiday on Gozo.
As well as getting a taste for Gozitan cuisine, visitors to the island can also get involved in various agritourism activities such as guided estate tours and helping Gozo’s farmers at harvest time – especially the grape harvest which runs from August to the end of September and the olive harvest in October.
This hands-on experience is an enjoyable way to appreciate what goes into making the island’s award-winning wines and olive oil and makes for a fun autumn activity holiday on Gozo. In this blog post we take a look at the wines and olive oil produced on Gozo and explore the various harvest activities you can get involved with.
Wine production in Gozo
Tending the vines in Gozo. Photo credit: VisitGozo.com
Archaeologists think that wine has been produced on Gozo for around 3,000 years, helped by it’s location in the middle of the Mediterranean sea and with a sunny and warm climate.
That legacy lives on today in Gozo’s three wineries: Ta’ Mena Estate, Tal-Massar Winery and Marsovin Ramla Valley Estate. All three produce a range of high quality wines characterised by what many call ‘The Island Effect’ – a unique taste influenced by the salty breezes that blow across tiny Gozo.
Surprisingly, for a small island, 12 different grape varieties are grown on Gozo: Syrah, Merlot, Grenache, Chardonnay, Vermentino, Tempranillo, Girgentina, Gellewza, Viognier, Sangiovese, Serkuzan, and Cabernet Sauvignon. These are often blended to create a range of wines to suit a variety of local dishes – from bold to fruity, and from dry to sweet.
An EU wine certification scheme was adopted in 2007 with a DOK (Denominazzjoni ta’ Oriġini Kontrollata) label for the top quality wines from Malta and Gozo.
There’s also an IĠT (Indikazzjoni Ġeografica Tipika) label for those wines from the Maltese Islands that are still of great merit. So look out for Gozo DOK Gozo IGT labels on the wine lists when you’re on holiday on Gozo.
The 25-acre Ta’ Mena Estate is located in the fertile Marsalforn Valley near Xagħra. The estate is owned by the Spiteri family who have farmed on Gozo for decades. It comprises more than 10 hectares of vineyards, an olive grove of around 1,500 trees, an orange grove and a fruit garden.
As well as producing a range of quality liqueurs, tomato paste, honeys, herbs and preserves, Ta’ Mena produces a range of 12 Gozo D.O.K. certified wines in its modern winery. The estate also produces a unique cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
In 2002, the family set about creating a sustainable, local agritourism business which aims to teach visitors about traditional crop cultivation as well as food and wine production.
This photo of Ta’ Mena Estate is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the estate and winery and then sample the estate’s produce. Ta’ Mena also offers private lunches or dinners where you’ll get to taste some seasonal Gozitan dishes to complement the estate’s wines. Children can also meet farm animals, such as goats, and can go on pony cart rides.
Those wanting a more immersive experience can join the estate’s workers at harvest time by booking to join in the grape picking (August/September) and olive picking (October). You can even get to see the wine making process in the estates’ winery.
Tal-Massar Winery is located in picturesque countryside near the village of Għarb on Gozo and has a hectare of vines. The owners, Anthony and Marisa Hili are passionate about wine and produce a range of six boutique wines – three reds, two whites and a rose.
Wine tasting at Tal-Massar Winery, Gozo. Photo credit: www.theanti-tourist.com
Personalised vineyard tours and wine tastings are offered twice a week by Anthony and visitors get to hear all about what it takes to produce award-winning wines. Marisa provides delicious home-cooked food to accompany the tastings. s every Tuesday and Saturday.
Marsovin Ramla Valley Estate
The Marsovin company was founded in 1919 and is well known in Malta as a producer of premium wines. The Marsovin Ramla Valley Estate on Gozo is one of their five vineyards on the Maltese Islands.
The Ramla Valley estate comprises a vineyard of 4.2 hectares growing Chardonnay grapes exclusively Marsovin’s Antonin Blanc wine. Visitors are able to book vineyard tours and wine tastings (firstname.lastname@example.org) and are welcome to attend the Antonin Under The Stars event held at Ramla Valley Estate in August (see section below – Wine Festivals on Gozo).
Olive oil production on Gozo
Olives have been cultivated on the Maltese Islands for thousands of years and are an essential part of Mediterranean cuisine and culture. Just as with the local wine industry, Gozo olive oil producers are passionate about continuing the production of high quality olive oil using modern technology.
British chef and TV personality Jamie Oliver visited the Maltese Islands a few years ago, and visited the Ta’ Mena Estate on Gozo. He was so impressed with the quality of the indigenous Maltese olives that he wondered if they could possibly be the best in the world!
Maltese olives – the best in the world? Photo credit: www.jamieoliver.com
Ramla Valley Olive Oil
Another specialist olive oil producer on Gozo is Ramla Valley which produces award-winning products at its family-run groves.
Olives are cold pressed on the day of collection, to produce 100% unfiltered extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Ramlal Valley also produce a range of aromatic EVOOs, including garlic, bayleaf, chili, rosemary, lemon and Basil using herbs grown on the estate.
Wine Festivals on Gozo
Delicata Wine Festival at Nadur. Photo: Visitgozo.com
Delicata Wine Festival: 23-25 August, 2019
The Delicata Classic Wine Festival in Nadur has been held to mark the end of the grape harvest season in Gozo every year since 2002 and is Gozo’s biggest wine event.
The festival has a great open-air setting in Nadur’s scenic Ġnien il-Kunsill garden, with panoramic views down to the Mġarr harbour. Visitors get to taste more than 20 wines produced by Delicata, including the Victoria Heights range of award-winning boutique wines produced on Gozo.
Where there is wine, there must always be food and visitors will get to sample a range of delicious Maltese and international dishes cooked on site. Live entertainment will also be provided every evening.
Traditions: Wine, Olive Oil and Honey – 20 - 22 September, 2019
Held in Pjazza Salvatur in the village of Għasri, this event is a lively celebration of traditional Gozitan food (including wine, olive oil and honey) and entertainment by the Astra Folk Group and DCapital’s Band.
Baron Holiday Homes – The Olives
The Olives Holiday Home pool area. Photo: Baron Holiday Homes
As well as being close to Gozo’s spectacular west coast near Dwerja, our rental farmhouse property The Olives comes with its own private grove of olive trees. Visitors are welcome to pick olives from these trees in season and we are investigating how in the future we can help guests to press and make their own olive oil. Watch this space!
Ask us for help
Baron Holiday Homes is happy to organise wine tours on Gozo, whatever time of year you visit. Just get in touch and we’ll tell you all you need to know.