DOC area for fortified wine in the Italian region of Sicily. It is one of the most famous dessert wines in the world and is named after the port city of the same name (Arabic Marsah-el-Allah = port or gate of God) in the province of Trapani. The zone, with over 5,000 hectares of vines, covers the entire province of Trapani, with the exception of the island of Pantelleria, which is off the coast of Sicily and belongs to it, as well as the municipalities of Alcamo and Favignana. In 1770, the English merchant and wine expert John Woodhouse came to Marsala and began exporting Sicilian wines to England because the demand for port and sherry there exceeded the supply. The year of the "invention" is 1773, when Woodhouse added eight litres of wine spirit to each of the 400-litre barrels destined for England. He had already been involved in the production of port wine in Portugal. In 1796, he opened the first Marsala House in Marsala, consisting of a warehouse and cellar. The English Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) contributed to its success by ordering an annual supply of 500 barrels for the fleet in 1800. In 1812, the Englishman Benjamin Ingham founded a second company in Marsala and also exported the wine to North America and Australia. The largest Marsala house still in existence, Florio, was opened in 1832 by Vincenzo Florio. All three companies were eventually taken over by the vermouth house of Cinzano in 1929.
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