Reduce, Save, Respect: great progress, continuing into 2014

"Reduce, Save, Respect”, three key words that summarize the efforts of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella to increase the eco-sustainability of wine-production in the area in order to protect the intrinsic prestige association with the Valpolicella wines. The Consorzio’s project is both a precursor of the European directive and a step towards meeting growing consumer awareness of such issues.

The project “Riduci, Risparmia, Rispetta” (in Italian), won the Consorzio the Guida del Touring ViniBuoni d’Italia Eco-friendly area prize, presented at the 2013 edition of the Merano WineFestival.

The Project goes further in 2014

Until 2013, the activities under this project were concise and articulate (see details below) and in 2014 will be enriched further.
2014 will also mark an important expansion of the informative and educational activities the Consorzio provides for its members concerning the knowledge of the area in which they produce wine.
Opening the events this year was the international convention in FieraAgricola that looked at the real and forecast dangers of Drosophila suzukii. The issue of sexual confusion and grapevine moths will be addressed during a seminar in March whilst the final evaluation of the activities related to defence of the vineyards will be carried out in November.
In February, the issue of pruning waste will be tackled with a day’s demonstration of the new methods of collection and management.
In May, the Consorzio will look at the reduction of weed killer with a workshop dedicated to machines used to work the rows of vines. In July, a one-day workshop will look at the control of drifting using equipment and pesticide management techniques that respect the environment and those who work in it.
Monitoring and research will continue into 2014 with the delivery of weekly newsletters, assistance with the technique of sexual confusion and the sustainable defence against grapevine moths, the evaluation of winery sustainability, collaboration with the regional workgroup and Syngenta for the management of pesticides on the premises (Tergeo Project), all of which have been on-going for the past few years.

The activities carried out within the project up until 2013

Since 2011, the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella has been active in promoting the grapes and wines produced in the area in order to protect the livelihood of local vine-growers as well as the state of the local economy and environment.
With this aim, the Consorzio has adopted a set of pest-control regulations named “Regulation of integrated pest control – Advanced” counting on consultancy by an expert agronomist to lay down a set of guidelines. The regulations on which they are based are those set out by the Veneto regional government that excludes products with the risks codes R40, R41, R63, R67, all of which are dangerous to vine workers and those who live close to the vineyards.
The debate between technicians and retailers to define the Consorzio’s guidelines and the promotion of this “Regulation of integrated pest control – Advanced” to all the wineries is part of the work that has been carried out until now.
The activities of the Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella are integrated into those carried out by the regional working group into sustainability that is following the ambitious project to monitor the use of pesticides by the private and cooperative wineries. The countryside registers are under observation and will soon be digitalised in order to create a complete and comparable control network across the Veneto region. Furthermore, the activity of the regional working group foresees a cross-referenced sampling control with the analysis of residual levels of the main active ingredients on the grapes and the subsequent certification of the wineries. Finally, each participating winery that is checked and adheres to the prerequisites will then be able to use a distinctive stamp that may be used when selling the product.
The Consorzio managed and promoted an experiment with sexual confusion to combat grapevine moth that was particularly successful. This technique of integrated pest control allows the reduction or even elimination of pesticides. It was first introduced into the area in 2010 and today is used across almost 10000 hectares in 7 macro-areas. Through monitoring the biological cycle of the insect, newsletters (weekly during the most delicate phases) are sent out with instructions on the treatment suitable for each macro-area with sms alerts to guarantee that the information reaches all the vine-growers. This service runs alongside informative sessions (three for each generation of grapevine moth) where it is explained how to defend vineyards against these pests.
Following the alarm surrounding Drosophila suzukii, the Consorzio Tutela dei Vini Valpolicella has activated monitoring of the new parasite not only in the vineyard but also in the fruit drying lofts in order to evaluate the results of eventual attacks on the grapes laid to rest. The surveys carried out in the vineyards were carried out using both monitoring traps and by observing the deposit of eggs directly on the grapes. Varietal sensitivity checks are also being carried out. The presence and behaviour of the tiny moths are also monitored in the fruit drying lofts along with possible methods of containment. A weekly bulletin is published to keep the Consorzio’s members informed on the presence of Drosophila suzukii.
The Consorzio has also organised training days for the local vine-growers in the vineyards with equipment demonstrations, focusing on innovative machines used for defence, crucial for the improvement of the use of pesticides and for the management of foliage.
Another aspect that falls under the assistance offered to wineries is functional checks of spraying machines. The Consorzio acts as an intermediary between the wineries and the bodies/certified companies that offer this service, looking to support the wineries not just economically but also structurally, pooling them together to be able to offer a more efficient service.