It’s thanks to John Woodhouse, son of a dealer in Liverpool, the making of a typical wine which bears the name of Marsala town.
In 1773 this English trader was in search of salsola soda (saltwort plant) which was used to extract soda ash and produce glass and soap, and in a tavern he “came across” a wine that tasted like the Madeira or Sherry he had drunk in the Iberian peninsula.
His intuition is great: carrying to England the Sicilian wine, added with 2% alcohol to keep it during the voyage which lasted 30 0r 40 days.
By the end of the 18th century, lots and lots of English merchants moved to Marsala and improved an unheard-of development of agriculture linked to the wine industry of the region.
In England it acquired a lot of fame and the British Government ordered that, the fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, under the command of the Admiral Horatio Nelson, was provided of Marsala wine.
It was written a contract between Mr Woodhouse and Admiral Horatio Nelson for the supply of 500 pipes a year to the English ships sailing in the Mediterranean Sea.
In that period of time in Marsala territory, vines growing wasn’t so extended, because the olive and the sumac tree growing was simpler and profitable; farmers were very poor and Mr Woodhouse understood it was necessary to transform the countryside agricultural economy.
So he started to advance money to farmers to incentivize the implant of their vineyards, but they had to give him their grapes and wine at the price that he himself would have fixed at the harvest time.
This kind of contract between the merchant and the wine producer took the name of “Mustu obbligatu”.
John Woodhouse wasn’t the only English merchant who was interested in Sicilian products, in fact there were a lot of English traders that, at the beginning of the 19th century, were trading with Sicily.
A prominent place belongs also to Benjamin Ingham who used his funds in support of the wine industry development in Marsala.
Benjamin Ingham deserves the credit to have improved the wine quality giving birth to modern oenological technology and innovated their commercial network pointing to qualified sales agents not only in Europe but also in America, promoting in this way the export to the United States, Brasil and Oceania.
By the passing of time, the English entrepreneurial example started to involve in Marsala owners and estates proprietors who began to produce and trade their wines. Among these the Cantine Vinci estabilished in 1947.