Viticulture is not one of the principal agricultural activities of the island of Sardinia. There are, however, what might be called islands of serious viticulture, islands within the island, and one of these is unquestionably the southwestern tip of the region, the area known as Sulcis. The once active mines of the zone are closed, and little other remunerative activity has sprung up to replace them. But the inhabitants of the town of Santadi can be justly proud of their local wines, which have won a reputation for themselves which has carried them into the better markets of Italy and many major international markets as well.
Local production is almost entirely in the hands of the Cantina Santadi, a cooperative winery which controls some 1500 acres. Founded in 1960, it initially concentrated on selling wine in bulk, and it was not until the mid-1970s and with the change of the board of directors (headed by Antonello Pilloni, the current president) that this winery began its path towards quality. One of the first moves taken was to start collaborating with Giacomo Tachis, oenologist of world wide renown, who contributed towards the revitalising the brand. Great care taken in the cellar and the enthusiasm of the winegrowers and the territory saw to the rest.
The range of wines includes Monica, a local red grape with an interesting personality, Nuragus, a white Sardinian variety, an excellent Nasco-based sweet wine, and much Vermentino indeed, 400 thousand bottles in a normal year. But the true specialty of the zone, of the cellar, of southwestern Sardinia are the powerful red wines made from the Carignano grape, elsewhere, particularly in southern France, little considered, highly productive, and useful principally for blending. But not in this part of the world, where the warmth of southern Sardinia is tempered by breezes off the sea. The sandy soil limits production, as does the presence of many old-vine vineyards, impressive indeed with their thick trunks seemingly struggling to emerge from what virtually appear to be sand dunes. The results are of notable level: the Carignano Grotta Rossa, the Cannonau Noras, the Carignano Riserva Rocca Rubia, some one thousand bottles. And, top of the line, the Carignano del Sulcis Superiore Terre Brune, one of the great wines of the Italian south.