Solighetto, Italy April 28, 2021 – The eleventh edition of the Viticultural Protocol of the Producers’ Consortium for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco D.O.C.G. was presented recently. This document was drawn up by a commission of experts presided over by the Producers’ Consortium. It is customarily distributed to the Consortium members in order to promote and protect the production zone and the beauty of its countryside. Ever since its first edition, the goal of the Viticultural Protocol has been to encourage more environmentally friendly vineyard management, which is largely due to a reduction in the use of plant health products and the corresponding integration of agronomic practices that are more respectful of the area and its landscape. This is a commitment that has evolved and become more refined over the years, making agriculture in the zone increasingly more sustainable.
“The Viticultural Protocol is a set of guidelines for the vine-growers which, year after year, we fine-tune as a result of our knowledge and research into the best possible agricultural practices for our area,” declares Innocente Nardi, President of the Producers’ Consortium. “We want it to be more than just a simple list of recommended substances for managing their vineyards and give our members a real handbook that can offer them effective support and point them towards practices that have increasingly less environmental impact. The results of this awareness-raising project can also be seen in the increasing number of our members who have obtained S.Q.N.P.I. (National Quality System for Integrated Production) Certification.As of today, 114 of our associate companies have certification; in 2019 there were 35. By the end of 2029 all the companies in the Denomination should be certified.”
To make reading the Protocol easier, in each chapter the chemical substances that are particularly useful for resolving the most common problems faced by the vine-growers have been highlighted. These are followed by an easy-to-consult list of products currently available and, lastly, more detailed articles have been included which deal with the most urgent topics in the field of protection against the most aggressive diseases and insects that are to be found in the Denomination, such as grapevine leafroll virus, flavescence dorée, and mealybugs. In conclusion, the Protocol insists on the adoption of methods of cultivation that are more compatible with the health of the vineyard, such as sexual confusion (whereby small diffusers are hung, containing natural insect pheromones to confuse pests) and hand-mowing of grass between the vine-rows.
The new Viticultural Protocol maintains one of its principal functions, in other words putting the grower in a position to choose which methods to use for managing their vineyard, whether chemical or organic, based on the real time needs of the vines and of the field itself in any given moment. For this purpose, technological data-collection instruments have been operating for some time now which constantly “photograph” the vineyard conditions (i.e.the use of mini weather stations, publication of agronomic bulletins for the members, etc.). The status in the vineyards is conveyed by the Consortium to the growers so that they can choose the most appropriate action to take on their land, as well as the one with the lowest environmental impact.
Apart from the Viticultural Protocol, there are other projects targeted towards environmental sustainability
The Viticultural Protocol was created as a body of guidelines, but also as a stimulus for a radical change in the growers’ environmental awareness. The sensibility that the dissemination of the Protocol has generated can be measured in the growth of agronomic projects that seek to reduce the environmental impact of agricultural practices.
The Certification project began in 2019 and has as its goal to make the Denomination increasingly sustainable by means of S.Q.N.P.I. (National Quality System for Integrated Production) Certification of the vineyard-owning companies in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. denomination.
This is a certification system that takes into account all the means used for production and for protecting crops from adversities, so as to reduce the use of synthetic chemical substances in the vineyard and validate proposed fertilization practices through the science of soil analysis. For all intents and purposes, this certification signifies a change in environmental awareness. It guarantees integrated vine protection in the zone. In order to obtain and maintain certification, certain control activities are required, above all analysis – on a significant sample of grapes that one has grown – that seeks to monitor adherence in one’s use in the vineyards of permitted plant health products (i.e., those authorized by the Veneto Region.)
All the companies that turn grapes into bottled wine are eligible for certification. As a result, they will have the possibility to use the S.Q.N.P.I. “bee” logo on their products. Viticulturalists, too, can participate in the project, and they will also be eligible to put up signs with the “bee” logo in their vineyards which have certification. All of the above will also be entitled to use the logo that identifies S.Q.N.P.I. certification on their websites, social media, and publicity material. Valoritalia s.r.l. works alongside the Consortium as the certifying body.
“ITAca” and “Vecchi Ceppi”
- ITAca (Innovazione Tecnologica e Ambientale per la gestione dei trattamenti nella viticoltura eroica- Technological and Environmental Innovation in the management of treatments in “heroic” vineyards), in collaboration with the University of Padua and the Veneto Region: a project whose objective is to increase the environmental sustainability of viticulture and support growers’ ability to operate in a profitable manner.
A fixed system, active in the Scandolera vineyards at Vidor, allows for pest control on two of the most common training systems, pergola and sylvoz, facilitating the work of wine growers in vineyards located on steep hillsides, where machines cannot be used. It interfaces with the LA VI PE platform to improve phytoiatric forecasts and the volumes of treatments to be applied, based on leaf development. The ITAca project also includes a centralized data collection on treatments so that one can have a statistical basis, both for evaluating their correspondence with the protocols and so that the data can be used from an epidemiological point of view.
- The “vecchi ceppi” or Old Vines project, began in 2014 and year after year, is gradually giving positive results, has as its objective to safeguard the biological diversity of the vines in the area by means of multiplication from twelve 100+ year old vines which have been identified and selected, and which will be tested with the aim of becoming actual clones in the near future. The objective on which the Consortium has set its sights, is to provide the members with the opportunity to plant clones derived from these 100+ year old vines and so maintain the uniqueness of the region’s wines also in the years to come.
- Also, in support of the vine-growers’ sustainable activities, a project has been initiated in the region to try out pelargonic acid, a naturally formed herbicide, creating a test zone to be placed under observation and from which to obtain field research, which will be certified by the Consortium.
The development of the Viticultural Protocol, in brief
The first edition of the Viticultural Protocol was published 11 years ago, and since then it has acquired ever greater importance for the members as well as for vine-growers in other parts of Italy.
The exclusion of all those formulas that contain products based on Folpet, Mancozeb and Dithianon dates back to 2013, and the same was true in 2016 for various other substances that the current laws would have allowed to be used. In 2018 a decision was taken by the local administrations to forbid the use of glyphosate. In 2019 this ban came into force, again ahead of the regulatory framework for the rest of Italy or Europe, thus making Conegliano Valdobbiadene the largest zone in Europe to have banned the use of the most controversial chemical substance of recent years, which continues to be employed in a great many Italian and European agricultural areas.
Today the Viticultural Protocol is a document that encourages the grape growers to evolve towards organic or at least more sustainable practices, and it is the cornerstone of the sustainability activities of the Consorzio Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco D.O.C.G.
About Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG
The Consorzio di Tutela del Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG is the private body, founded in 1962, that guarantees and controls adherence to the production regulations for D.O.C.G. Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore. The sparkling wines produced on the hillsides between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the Province of Treviso, obtained Denominazione di Origine Controllata status in 1969 and the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita in 2009. The production zone includes 15 municipal areas: Conegliano, San Vendemiano, Colle Umberto, Vittorio Veneto, Tarzo, Cison di Valmarino, San Pietro di Feletto, Refrontolo, Susegana, Pieve di Soligo, Farra di Soligo, Follina, Miane, Vidor and Valdobbiadene. The Consortium, whose current President is Innocente Nardi, has its headquarters in the village of Solighetto in Pieve di Soligo. It groups together 192 sparkling wine producers, 442 vinifying companies and 3400 families of vine-growers who are involved in the production of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore. It operates principally in three areas: protection of the product; its promotion, both in Italy and abroad, furthering knowledge of the product through educational activities, the organization of events and relations with the press; and, lastly, it offers technical assistance to its members, from the vineyard to the winery.???