— Conegliano Valdobbiadene

The green path towards Horizon 2020

The 2018 Viticultural Protocol and integrated pest and disease control. The wine companies’ sustainable operations in the vineyard and in the winery.

The publication of the 8th edition of the Viticultural Protocol, the document that proposes and promotes a virtuous system of integrated pest and disease control for vines, represents an opportunity for the Producers’ Consortium for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. to sum up the activities carried out by the wine companies in the region with regard to environmental, economic and social sustainability.

The Viticultural Protocol has – for several years now – been the cornerstone of the sustainability programme of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Consortium, and with it are associated fundamental actions by the businesses in the region that demonstrate their widespread interest in protecting the environment and the society in which they operate. The synergy between the actions of the Consortium (such as the Protocol) and those of the individual companies trace a clearer and more significant path towards Horizon 2020. Indeed, the producers’ efforts, considering the geographical proximity between them, will allow the Conegliano Valdobbiadene D.O.C.G. area as a whole to make an important contribution towards attaining the objectives of smart, inclusive and sustainable growth laid down in the Europe 2020 strategy (Horizon 2020).


The 2018 Viticultural Protocol and integrated control

The objective of the Protocol since its creation has been to gradually eliminate practices and chemicals that are considered to have too great an impact on the environment and promote instead types of agriculture that are as non-invasive as possible. The publication of the Protocol and its circulation among the 178 companies that belong to the Producers’ Consortium have contributed over the years towards disseminating the concepts of sustainable farming among the region’s growers.

The elimination of formulations containing products based on Folpet, Mancozeb and Dithianon dates back to 2013, and various other substances were added in 2016. In this edition, apart from underlining the recent decision by the 15 communes in the Denomination to eliminate Glyphosate as from 1st January 2019, the need for integrated pest and disease control is stressed and the instruments are provided for putting it into action.

Indeed, sustainable agriculture cannot only be based on doing away with certain chemical substances, but also – inevitably – on adopting integrated control, as well as on awareness that constant analysis of the agronomic situation is the fundamental tool for agriculture that is as efficient and sustainable as possible. The Viticultural Protocol has as its goal to enable growers to use the various methods for managing the vineyard, whether they be chemical or organic, based on the actual needs of the vines and of the land at any given moment. To do this, there are technical and technological instruments for acquiring data that give a constant picture of the situation in the vineyard: this is then transmitted by the Consortium to the growers so that they can select the most suitable and environment-friendly action to use in their vineyards.


Sustainable actions for wine producers: in the vineyard

Each year the Consortium, with the support of Cirve (the Interdepartmental Centre for Research in Viticulture and Oenology) monitors the specific sustainability operations of the individual companies. Most importantly, 69 producers (out of 178) carry out activities to prepare the soil from a water-related/agrarian point of view and operations aimed at preserving elements of merit in the wine-producing landscape. This change has been accompanied by an increase in the number of operations to restore and maintain the local architectural heritage (up 31% compared to 2011), which have seen the participation of 48 companies in the D.O.C.G..

Of particular interest is the figure on plantings in the proximity of the vineyards of new clumps of trees and shrubs, designed to enrich the biodiversity of the countryside and of the viticultural ecosystem, (in the order of around 27%). These new investments have also led to the planting of hedgerows which, as well as mitigating the drifting of pesticides, improve the degree of protection of the landscape and act as reserves for beneficial insects.

As regards, on the other hand, investments in renewable energy resources, in 2016 these were made by 84 sparkling wine producers, representing an increase of 30% in the period under analysis (2011-2016). Investments in other renewable energy sources (which include, for example, those in hydroelectric plants, solar thermal energy, etc.) have avoided the emission into the surrounding countryside of several thousand tons of carbon dioxide and saved approximately ¼ of the electrical energy that is necessary for the production process.

An increasing number of the zone’s D.O.C.G. sparkling wine producers (we are now talking about 108 companies, around 81% of the total) adopt methods for recycling waste materials from production in the vineyard. In 2016, almost 90% of D.O.C.G. reused the sub-products of grape processing (stalks, pomace, dregs, etc.) in the vineyards as conditioners for fertilizing the soil, thus providing a contribution towards maintaining its distinctive nature. Pruned vine shoots were employed for energy purposes by 20% of the D.O.C.G.’s producers, while 15% used them for obtaining compost in combination with grape pomace.


Sustainable actions for wine producers: in the winery

There has been an increase in the involvement of the D.O.C.G. sparkling wine producers in the reuse of water from the winery for irrigating and fertilizing the vineyards (+26%), as well as for other eco-sustainable practices.

Finally, with regard to the final phase of production, one can note an improvement in packaging, which is increasingly eco-sustainable (+14%), for a total in 2016 of 44 D.O.C.G. sparkling wine companies out of 181 (around 24% of the total number). In particular, from a detailed examination of the results regarding production of D.O.C.G wine in bottle, it can be determined that: 73% is bottled in light glass and/or bottles made from recycled glass; 36% of bottles are closed with capsules that use water-based paints, and corks and other materials are recycled; approximately 22% of bottles have ultra-thin labels, made with FSC certified paper; and around 48% of cartons/packaging are biodegradable and/or lighter and/or less bulky*.

* These data refer to the situation in 2016.