18 Apr An Italian wine region takes a sustainable approach
The definition of “sustainability” is the study of how natural systems function, remain diverse, and produce everything it needs for the ecology to remain in balance. Sustainability has become the focus on many businesses, including many wineries. And many wine regions have taken region-wide steps to be sustainable, including Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, which I wrote about in the Napa Valley Register and share here.
Prosecco, an Italian sparkling white wine produced in the northeast of Italy, is often thought of as the inexpensive commercial sparkling wine best mixed in a mimosa. But “not all Prosecco are created equal,” said Dottore Diego Tomasi, director of the Consorzio Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG comes from the hills between the two towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the Treviso province in Italy. The small area covers less than 22,000 acres and vines are only planted in the hills.
The hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene are the eighth UNESCO World Heritage site in the Veneto region, and the 10th site in the world to be labeled as a “cultural landscape.” Located between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, the climate is cool with plenty of sunshine. And the soils are a combination of glacial and marine soils.
These characteristics make the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG some of the most elegant and sophisticated sparkling wines. But there is something more to Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG: It is a region driven by sustainability.
The Consorzio Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG was the first Consorzio to focus its energy on the care in the vineyard and to eliminate chemical usage.
According to Dottore Diego Tomasi, director of the Consorzio Conegliano Valdobbiadene, “We started to think about sustainability not today, not yesterday, but 10 years ago.”
The Consorzio created a framework of sustainability in the region and established viticultural protocols. Since 2011, the Consorzio has published the “Viticultural Protocols” to educate others about plants and products. The region of Conegliano Valdobbiadene has not used chemicals in the vineyard in 12 years. And now the regional law has followed the Consorzio’s protocols.
Then, in 2019, the Consorzio put an absolute ban on the use of glyphosate or any other systemic herbicide. The Consorzio is also restricting any more planting of vineyards as they have found a balance between 57 percent woods, 4 percent urban, 30 percent vineyards and 9 percent other.
The Green Academy
Now, looking towards the future with climate change, the Consorzio has created the Green Academy, a project to study some of the most important issues facing producers in today’s global environment.
As part of this program, the Consorzio is working with Banca Prealpi and the University of Cantabria with the objective to create models to forecast any extreme atmospheric events that may occur in the hills between now and the next 10, 20 or even 30-plus years.
In addition, the Consortium has had a group of internationally renowned Egyptologists study how the ancient Egyptians, who invented the pergola system, succeeded in cultivating vines in extreme climatic conditions. And, with regards to drought, the Consorzio is working with the University of Padua to focus their attention on recuperating, conserving and reusing rain and spring water with the creation of small basins designed to collect water.
While the Consorzio has taken the lead, the wineries of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG are also taking action internally to reflect their commitment to sustainability.
La Tordera is a family-owned company. The Vettoretti family has been in the region for over a century and manage 173 acres of vineyards.
“Natural balance” has always been a primary concept of the family, explained export director Laura Quartraccioni. Everything is made inside the company, from growing the grapes to selling. Since 2018, the La Tordera winery is the first CasaClima certified winery in Veneto, which means that the winery was built with the use of eco-sustainable materials and designed to synergistically use various energy sources, including water, wood, thermal and solar.
Additional actions of sustainability taken by La Tordera include good practices with regards to the materials used in the building of the winery, the reduction of water usage and the reduction of energy usage.
La Tordera has also reduced their use of sulphites due to the proximity of the vineyards to the winery. And, in 2021, La Tordera changed their packaging to use lighter-weight bottles made from 80 percent recycled glass. The capsules are produced with a vegetal-based, bio-compatible and recyclable material without any glue and produced with 20% energy savings. There is also a total absence of CO2 during the production cycle of the capsules, as well as a low carbon footprint.
La Tordera Otreval Rive di Guia Extra Brut is a zero-sugar added extra brut. The wine sees a longer Charmat method, spending an additional three months in the autoclave. The wine has notes of apple, pear, citrus and flowers with minerality and a hint of yeast. It is dry and fresh on the palate with good structure.
Val d’Oca is a consortium that was started in 1952 in Valdobbiadene. Today it is made up of 600 growers and almost 2,500 acres of vines. Since its foundation, social and economic responsibility have been at the core of the business. The company was structured and built to be sustainable in social way. On the economic side, people came together to create the company and build economic wealth in the territory. In the last few years, the focus has been environmental.
Marketing manager Luca Maruffa said, “Even a consortium takes a sustainable approach.”
Beginning in 2019, the Cantina Produttori di Valdobbiadene has invested in more efficient production processes and the use of renewable energy sources. They constructed new wine tanks to increase storage capacity and reduce transport and CO2 emission and invested in a production efficiency process for its two bottling lines.
They are focused on reducing CO2 emissions with the addition of a second photovoltaic system in the logistics center, the introduction of a renewable energy supply and a reduction in the weight of the bottles. They have also reduced water consumption and recycle waste materials.
Val d’Oca Rive di San Pietro di Barbozza Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG is a brut wine with an aromatic nose of white flowers, green apple, and lemongrass. The wine is delicate and balanced.
Founded in 1935, Santa Margheita is known for its Pinot Grigio, but they have been making Prosecco Superiore since 1952, long before they made Pinot Grigio. The company was founded by Gaetano Marzotta and named after his wife Magherita as a multi-purpose agricultural business in the Veneto countryside. A village was built around the business that provided for the people working the land, reflecting that the social aspect is an important part of sustainability.
Since 1952, Santa Margherita has been working with the same families based on long-term, multi-generational relationships. According to wine educator Kristina Sazama, “We help in the training and technical support with our growers by introducing more sustainable ways.” This includes inputs in the vineyard. They also provide tools for the health and safety of the growers.
Santa Magherita has taken many actions with regards to water, energy and packaging savings. They replaced the bottling line in 2018 and added measures to save on water and energy, including reusing water and using high water pressure to reduce consumption.
They have also replaced tanks with more modern and efficient cooling systems which saves millions of liters of water. Santa Margherita has been energy self-sufficient on their property since 2012 and continue to look for ways to increase energy efficiency and lower consumption of energy.
Santa Magherita Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG comes from the more rugged and cooler vineyards in the western part of Valdobbidene. The secondary fermentation takes place in horizontal tanks and there are lees contact for 90 days. The wine is fresh and elegant with ripe fruit aromas, a dense mid-palate and a crisp finish.
The Bolla family started making wine in 1883 in Soave. In 1938, Sergio Bolla purchased a winery in Valdobbiadene called Societá Anonima Vini Superiori, which had been created in 1926 and renamed it Valdo. Third-generation Matteo Bolla shared that “family, high quality, and sustainability are the three pillars” of Valdo.
Environmental sustainability has been a key theme for more than 20 years at Valdo. In 2021, they installed a new photovoltaic system that will cover 70 percent of the company’s energy requirements. They have seen a reduction of phytosanitary treatments with the ban on the use of the herbicide glyphosate, have reduced CO2 emissions, and resulted both water and paper consumptions.
And Valdo holds a SQNPI Certification, the Italian National Quality System for Integrated Production, a sustainability certificate recognized by the Ministry for agricultural products.
Valdo Cuvee 1926 Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG honors the founding year of the winery. It is a blend of 90 percent Glera and 10 percent Chardonnay. The wine has an aromatic nose with notes of apple, pear, peach, grapefruit, and white flowers and is fresh on the palate with notes of green apple and wet stone.
Read the original story in the Napa Valley Register.