Grapevine & Wine 05/09/2011

The way towards an sustainable viticulture

The pilot project "Polo del Carignano", in Italy, which advocates for the adoption of modern biodynamics, can inspire a new agronomic and management model from the long standing tradition of conservative pruning

Image and values perceived by public and consumers are fundamental today more than ever. In my imagination, I have ever considered Sulcis - in Sardinia, the large Italian island - a singular entity, to finally discover after repeatedly postponing it. It is a very particular example to enhance. The sandy lands, the climate, the geographic position, the Carignano vineyard, the little tree cultivation are inimitable in other places.

To explore the topic in depth I followed Dr. Rita Mulas’ presentation of the pilot project “Polo del Carignano” during the Vinitaly Fair in Verona, Italy. The necessity to take vision of the territory and of existing viticulture realities stemmed from it. The environment is fit to a sustainable viticulture, such as it is being programmed in every corner of the world. The keyword “sustainability” is not only the strong point of technicians, but also of culture promoters, legislators and politicians.

The peculiarity of this vineyard does not only consist in the specific features of the land (sandy lands, windbreaks, ungrafted, small extension of privately owned land), but also in the ability of growing vines, thanks to the “conservative pruning”, which is a long standing tradition and represents a reason for the durability of this type of viticulture. This is indeed a unique combination of factors, a true “Sulcis model”, which has been created by the personal knowledge, which has found an operative validity in these conditions.

The quality of wines, especially red ones, depends mainly on the equilibrium of vines, which improves the accumulation of noble substances in the grapes as the vine gets older, so that old vines produce a high quality wine in this area. Their abandon or explant would represent a serious loss. Comprehending their value entails the respect of something that nature has created and mankind has taken care of and will leave to future generations as an inalienable identity complement.

Besides these positive factors, there are negative ones too, which can be synthesized as little rationality in the adopted distances and mistakes in the management and fertilization of soils, which have led to unfruitfulness of lands, and lacks in the phyto-sanitary defense. It is therefore recommendable to restore the natural fertility of lands, and to promote an enhancement of quality to put in practice all those preventive interventions and eco-compatible defense methods which can emphasize the health of operators and consumers. From this standpoint, the pilot project appears well oriented, as it proposes the adoption of modern biodynamics as it was proposed by the agronomist Leonello Anello.

It is necessary to stimulate media to enhance the awareness and collaborate to this model. In the current globalized world, the individual who just takes care of his yard, without being part of a “team” is destined to succumb to the greater power of globalization. The necessity to overcome the unfair isolation of agriculture, now seen as the least important activity, when it is actually source of civilization. Agriculture has too often been the scapegoat, whose blood has been spilled in vain. If agriculture were given a new role in a well defined framework, it could be a motor around which new complementary activities could receive a boost, thus potentially changing the destiny of a territory.

The considerations that I drew from my visit to Sulcis are just indicative, although they do represent the current situation. Some operative proposals can definitely find their dimension among activities which are already under way to enhance the Sulcis region, also in the context of the pilot project “Polo del Carignano”, which has been drawing the attentions of scientific community, because of its uniqueness, whose success may be an example for the world of viticulture.