“Sin dalla sua creazione, avvenuta nel 1998, la nostra associazione, che conta 72 soci e produce oggi più dell’80% del vino imbottigliato nella regione, si è posta come obiettivo quello di presentare al mondo un’immagine dell’enologia siciliana unitaria e qualitativa, anche sotto il profilo ambientale. Un evento dal carattere internazionale come Sicilia en Primeur non può non porre l’accento su tematiche di attualità come lo sviluppo di una viticultura sempre più green e la salvaguardia della biodiversità, filosofia che ci accompagna in ogni fase della produzione”.
Francesco Ferreri, presidente Assovini Sicilia
Sicily contains a great wealth of different wines, as is revealed by the fact that it has no less than 22 D.O.C.s and 1 D.O.C.G.. This variety also stems from a great deal of varietal biodiversity, as the figures show; on average, every producer grows and makes wine from 9 different cultivars, from international to indigenous ones. The latter represent the real patrimony of the Region, which is still – to a great extent – unexplored. For this reason, around 38% of the members of Assovini Sicilia carries out experimentation in the vineyard. The value of the indigenous varieties was confirmed a few months ago by UNESCO, which awarded the status of World Heritage to the agricultural practice of head-training bush vines of the Zibibbo cultivar on the island of Pantelleria: an accolade that rewards heroic viticulture and the island’s iconic Passito wine. There is also a considerable effort to recuperate “relic” varieties, which are being studied in detail by the Region of Sicily: vines such as Perricone, Nocera, Inzolia Nera and Zibibbo Nero.
The interest in the local heritage is not limited to the vineyard, though. It is also evident in the winery: indeed, no less than 69% of the members use indigenous yeasts in vinification.
Respect for the environment
Apart from its value within the economy, viticulture plays an important role in protecting the environment from erosion and from overbuilding. One only has to consider the heroic viticulture of Etna or of the island of Pantelleria, where the terraced vineyards, in which more than 1000 hours of manual labour per hectare are necessary each year, represent an important means for avoiding abandoning excellent vine-growing land that is constitutionally fragile. Indeed, at the end of 2014, on the volcanic island of Pantelleria, UNESCO recognized head-training of the local bush vines as a creative and sustainable agricultural practice, thanks to the manual cultivation methods used and the use of terraces supported by walls made from local stones. And if on the one hand the vineyards protect the landscape and the soil, on the other viticulture is becoming increasingly environment-friendly, thanks to the adoption of ever “greener” cultivation practices, aided partly by the extremely favourable climate. Sicily is in fact the Italian Region with the largest number of hectares of vineyards that are farmed organically and with one of the highest percentages of use of “integrated and guided” pest control, accounting for some 83 % of the area under vine. These last two methods allow the vine-growers to intervene only in the case of need, focusing mainly on prevention and reducing spraying, thus concentrating, whenever possible, on natural solutions.
Apart from this attention to the vineyards, many producers make other wise choices in running their businesses: 89% of the members opt for systems for producing “clean” energy, 64 % adopt solutions for saving energy and 50% take steps to reduce waste. Most part of the members have environmental certification, but there are also plenty of voluntary projects for improving environmental sustainability. At a Regional level, the “SOStain” project has been favoured, combined with national protocols such as Tergeo and Magis, to which many producers also adhere.
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