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Unless you’ve been to Malta, it’s unlikely that you’ve had Maltese wine. Not much is exported, and the small island country does not have nearly as much of a wine reputation as its other Mediterranean neighbors, such as Italy. However, if you’re visiting Malta, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the local wineries. Winemaking on the islands dates back to the Phoenicians over 2,000 years ago. There are just over a dozen wineries in Malta, though not all are open to the public & some of those that are have limited schedules. Still, several great wineries do offer wine tasting in Malta, plus wine bars & restaurants showcase the country’s wine. I’ve had the opportunity to visit many of the wineries in Malta to find my favorite places for wine tasting.
Wine Tasting In Malta
Most of the wineries in Malta are located on the main island. Several are located near Valletta, while others are a bit further away. That said, “a bit further away” doesn’t exactly mean a long journey in such a small place.
Although Malta does have two indigenous grape varieties, the red Ġellewża and the white Girgentina, their cultivation is limited. As a result, your wine tastings will more likely include well-known varieties found elsewhere in Europe.
Most of the wineries on my list offer wine tasting by reservation only. You will likely have to book via email, so plan ahead since not every winery will respond quickly.
One alternative is to take a Maltese food & wine tour, of which several are available.
There are also annual wine festivals in Valletta and Qormi.
Ta’ Betta Wine Estates
I visited the beautiful Ta’ Betta Wine Estates as part of a full-day Maltese food & wine tour associated with Keyframe 23. As our minibus pulled up to the winery, we were greeted by two friendly dogs, Etna & Jack.
First, before our Maltese wine tasting, we took a tour of the Ta’ Betta Winery. Their facility is bright & clean, with pretty cast-stone tanks called eggs. I noted that they are produced in my area of California, up in Sonoma.
Ta’ Betta Wine Estates was founded by the Camileri Family, who bought the property in 2002. The Ta’ Betta name comes from the nickname of their daughter.
They were then introduced to a winemaker in 2003 and set out to gradually build one of the best wineries in Malta. It wasn’t easy, as it took 10 years to get a winery permit. That didn’t stop them from producing wine that was ready to drink once the permit was finally obtained.
Although Malta is close to Sicily, the terroir is completely different. While Sicily’s volcanic soils produce the famous Etna wines, Malta is made from limestone and clay. The altitude is also much lower, with just 200 meters of elevation at Ta’ Betta winery.
The first plantings at Ta’ Betta Wine Estates were Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. They have also expanded to include Chardonnay, their only white varietal.
The harvest starts with Chardonnay in early August, then continues through mid-September for the latest reds. All of the grapes are harvested by hand. Once a crate is filled, it is immediately put into a refrigerated van, as it’s still hot in Malta during the harvest season.
Following sorting and destemming, it’s time to start making the wine. For the reds, the whole grapes go into the aforementioned eggs. The stone eggs are similar to a combination of stainless steel and oak and are temperature-controlled. The shape allows for natural circulation while the grapes press via their own weight. The wine is aged for six months in the porous vessel that allows some small amount of oxygen to come through.
The next stop of the Malta wine tour was through the barrel room. It is a beautiful modern facility & produces 25,000 bottles per year.
We then took a walk through the expansive vineyards surrounding the main buildings. In a quieter area of the property, you can spot the owners’ weekend home. You can hear the bleating of nearby farm animals as you walk around, and then you can actually meet them, including a goat and a donkey.
In addition to the vineyards, the Maltese winery also produces olive oil from their 200-250 olive trees.
After we toured the Ta’ Betta Winery, it was finally time for our tasting and lunch. The winery does not have a set tasting schedule & is not normally open to the public. However, you can contact them via their website to schedule tastings if available or if you have a larger event. We entered the tasting room to find excellent plates filled with cheese & charcuterie.
Ta’ Betta does export some of their wines. Wines from Malta are typically sold to people who want to try something different. Due to the lower familiarity with Maltese wines, the wines typically require some explanation and aren’t something someone will blindly grab off the shelf. Therefore, Ta’ Betta works with importers to educate them about wine from Malta.
As we noshed on meat and cheese, we tasted three different Ta’ Betta wines, all named after the Grandmasters of Malta. The first wine was their Jean Parisot Chardonnay. Then we had a 60% Merlot, and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon Blend named after Antonio Manoel, who culturally developed the island, including rebuilding Mdina & the famous Mdina Gate. The 3rd was a bold 70% Syrah, 30% Cabernet Franc blend dedicated to Phillipe Villers, the first Grandmaster of Malta, who was defeated by the Ottomans at Rhodes & then ended up in Malta.
A few generous pours later, it was time to head off to our next food destination: a ftira (Maltese pizza) workshop. The wine did lead to a brief moment of confusion – were we seeing a 3rd dog, or were we that buzzed that we were seeing extras? We were fine, we were just meeting a new friend named Cooper. The winery clearly loves its dogs.
If you’re looking for a great place to go wine tasting in Malta, Ta’ Betta is one of the best experiences in the country thanks to its excellent wine & well-appointed facility.
Mar Casar La Maison Du Vin Naturel Winery
Mar Casar La Maison Du Vin Natural Winery is a completely different Malta wine-tasting experience. While Ta’ Betta is a winery that has seen a lot of investment into the property, Mar Casar is much more of a shoestring operation (a term I say with adoration).
Mark Cassar is the man behind this natural winery, the only winery of its kind in Malta. Twenty years ago, he developed an allergy to sulfites and pesticides, leading him to become interested in natural wines.
He bought this lovely plot of land located down narrow, winding, rock wall-lined roads trodden mostly by horses and started making natural wine. Mar Casar Winery is not easy to get to, especially by public transportation. When I arrived by Bolt, Malta’s Uber equivalent, Mark immediately greeted me with a glass of wine and told me to walk around the 3-hectare vineyard until the afternoon of wine tasting was ready to begin, since I was there early & he was still setting up. Once again, I was joined by dogs.
Soon, others would arrive, parking their cars in whatever space of grass they could find.
Then, it was time to head into the haphazard garage of a winery, which has all the essentials for winemaking but nothing more. Mar Casar typically produces around 6k bottles of white wine and 6k bottles of red wine per year, though due to the combination of varying harvests (particularly due to climate change in recent years) as well as the high standards of Mark Cassar, not every year results in wine production.
In addition to being a passionate & knowledgeable winemaker, Mark Cassare is quite the character. He’s a natural storyteller, regaling his guests with anecdotes, such as that as a baby, his pacifier was soaked in wine.
Along with the stories came generous pours of wine. His wine tastings (which can be booked via email) also include lunch, and they feel more like a laid-back lunch party with wine than a formal wine tasting. I sat at a table with Austrian tourists, while some other tables had locals from Malta. Despite its garage feeling, it’s also like being in the winemaker’s dining room & kitchen.
The first wine we tasted was my favorite. It was a 2017 skin contact Chardonnay. The amber natural wine was made in the traditional qvevri method from Georgia. The wine paired well with the peppered Maltese cheese known as Ġbejna. It’s one of the foods you must try if you visit Malta.
Later, we would head into the winery to see the 400-200 liter clay qvevri in which the wines are made.
We didn’t just eat cheese. Mark had created an entire feast for his guests. We started with cheese and meat, along with Maltese sausages. He then brought out homemade fresh baked focaccia. This was followed by pumpkin soup and chicken wings.
Maybe it was the food, the wine (which also included a Merlot and a hemp-fermented wine), or the good company, but everything in combination makes Mar Casar one of the best wine tastings in Malta.
Marsovin Winery is the largest winery in Malta. It was founded in 1919 by Anthony Cassar. Their parent company, CassarCamilleri, also produces Camilleri Wines.
Marsovin owns and operates five estates scattered around Malta, each with its own unique terroir. Marsovin’s Cassar de Malte is the main sparkling wine of the island nation.
The Marsovin Winery complex is a huge operation in an industrial port area south of Valletta. There is a tasting room called Marsovin Cellars.
Wine tastings at Marsovin Cellars are bookable by email; however, the system could use some work. I visited Marsovin for a 2:30 p.m. tour and arrived over 15 minutes early. There was no sign of anyone. We eventually had to get another staff member to check on the welfare of the tour guide. It turned out that due to a miscommunication that was entirely the tour guide’s fault, he had started the tour even earlier.
While I didn’t get to do a wine tasting at Marsovin, I did drink some of their wine elsewhere in Malta, as it can be found at many restaurants, wine bars, and bottle shops.
Emmanuel Delicata Winemaker
Emmanuel Delicata Winemaker is one of Malta’s oldest wineries, founded in 1907. Its long history makes it the most-awarded winery in Malta.
Delicata is one of the largest winemakers in Malta. However, you’ll likely have to taste their wines at local restaurants and wine bars.
While their website mentions wine tastings that include five boutique D.O.K. Malta, D.O.K. Gozo, and I.G.T. Maltese Islands wines, they never seem to have anything available to book on their calendar. You can try e-mailing them to see if they have any tasting opportunities.
Meridiana Wine Estate
Meridiana Wine Estate is another large Maltese wine producer. The winery opened in 1987 & produces around 140,000 bottles yearly from its 19-hectare estate at Ta’ Qali.
They offer weekday tours and tastings, but you must contact them through their website to schedule. The tasting includes four different wines (usually two white, one red, and one rose), along with either a classic or Maltese platter.
Wine Tasting In Gozo
While most of the wineries in Malta are on the country’s main island, there are also a couple of wineries in Gozo. Gozo is a beautiful place for a day trip or a weekend getaway. It’s much quieter than the large cities of Malta, plus there are plenty of historic sites and views. And also wine tasting, of course.
Ta’ Mena Winery
Ta’ Mena has two main properties. The Ta’ Mena Estate is north of Victoria, and the Ta’ Mena Winery is in Xewkija, east of Victoria.
The Ta’ Mena Estate is where the vineyards & farm are located. After getting full permits for an estate tourism project in 2022, they are renovating the site.
The only part of the Ta’ Mena Estate currently open to the public is a small roadside stand selling wine and its other products. Ta’ Mena produces liquors, jams, honey, cheese, sea salt, vinegar, olive products, and tomato products in addition to their wine. These products are available at the store at their production facility as well.
Ta’ Mena Winery offers tours and tastings. Our tour guide, Maria, started by telling us the history of the winery & the rest of the business. “Ta” means “of” in Maltese, while “Mena” was the name of Maria’s grandmother.
In the 1950s, Mena inherited 2 hectares of land from her father when she married Maria’s grandfather. Back then, everyone used to grow their own crops for personal use and trading.
Following Mena’s death, the business was passed down through the family but slowed when the kids moved away. However, it was revitalized by Maria’s father as the recognition of quality products and small producers began to grow. He approached the business with an agritourism focus, growing the property to 10 hectares.
Ta’ Mena planted 1,500 olive trees on this land. After the introduction in the shop, the next part of the tour continues into the olive pressing room. The olives are pressed with cold water. This happens the same day they are harvested. Otherwise, the olives start to heat up and become more acidic.
Ten kilograms of olives produce 1 liter of olive oil early in the harvest, then up to 1.4 liters of olive oil by the end. The bigger the olive, the lesser the oil. This works well since the bigger ones are also best for eating.
The tour then continues into the winery itself & its stainless steel tanks. Ta’ Mena Winery produces around 35k-45k bottles annually, mostly from their own grapes. The winery primarily grows Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, Vermentino, and Viognier. However, they are also starting to work more with indigenous Maltese grapes.
After our 45-minute tour, we had a wine tasting in the winery’s cellar. In addition to the wine, we had an outstanding traditional local food platter filled with products produced by Ta’ Mena. It had meat, cheese, olives, orange marmalade, and bread with sweet sun-dried tomato paste and olive oil, which was particularly great.
As for the wine tasting, we had four different wines: a white, a rose, a Merlot Cabernet Franc red, and a 2015 Marsamena red, a five-grape blend aged in French oak barrels. The latter was my favorite.
The Ta’ Mena wine tasting is an excellent addition to any Gozo day trip or weekend itinerary. Contact the winery through its website to make a booking. They typically host wine tastings on Saturdays, though they may also have other availability.
Tal-Massar Winery is a winery in Gozo located on a beautiful hilltop property with sea views.
Wine tastings and tours are bookable via email. See their website for details. Our visit started with an introduction in the vineyard that told the history of the winery & the work they do. Some 80% of the work happens in the vineyard, including mixing. As we listened to Anthony talk, he was interrupted by a donkey braying from a nearby field. It sounded like a sea lion.
Tal-Massar has been in operation for 20 years. Over that time, the husband & wife team who run the winery have seen the impact of a changing climate. The sandy limestone soil of Malta is stressful for the vines. They are continuing to adapt for the future, including diversifying varieties and rootstock. The winery is also planting indigenous varieties such as Girgentina.
The wine tastings at Tal-Massar Winery take place on a nice outdoor covered patio with panoramic views of Gozo. In addition to the wine, we were served a cheese and meat platter.
Our wine tasting consisted of 5 wines, all generous pours. Due to the coastal location, the wines have a hint of a salty finish, particularly the white and the rose.
You can tell the owners are truly wine lovers. The 2-hour tasting turned into three as we all enjoyed the wine & the camaraderie.
The five wines we tasted started with an award-winning white Vermentino with green apple & pineapple flavors.
Next was their Rose, with its light peach color coming from just one hour of skin contact.
We then had a dry red, which had dark berry notes and a jammy, almost port-like smell.
This was followed by a late-harvest wine made from sun-dried grapes picked for higher potential alcohol. The wine paired especially well with Gorgonzola.
Finally, we had an experimental port-inspired wine served with a brownie.
Between the beautiful environment, the knowledgeable owners, and the excellent wine, Tal-Massar is one of the best places for wine tasting in Malta.
Vini e Capricci by Abraham’s
If you can’t make it to one of the wineries in Malta for wine tasting, Gozo is also home to an excellent wine bar & restaurant called Vini E Capricci by Abraham’s.
The quiet restaurant has a massive wine selection and fantastic food, including a mix of Maltese and Italian dishes. It’s also a wine shop.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, check out these Malta hotels.