Prosecco DOC furthers its commitment to a sustainable future
The Prosecco DOC Consortium continues its dedication to preserving the territory and its biodiversity, aiming for continuous improvement of the region.
Starting in 2018, the Prosecco DOC Consortium launched a series of projects that address sustainability and environmental issues, furthering the Consortium’s commitment to building a reliable sustainable productive system, involving the whole production chain and territory.
The projects are targeted towards vineyards and wineries within the region to help them implement, alongside the production process, the necessary measures to overcome, step by step, environmental and long-term productivity issues, as well as those of ethical, social and economic responsibility.
These initiatives involve different areas of intervention within aspects of the supply chain. The sustainability project is multidisciplinary, multi-level, as it acts on the three pillars of sustainability (environmental, social and economic) within the three levels of the production system (i.e. vineyards, wineries and the Consortium) and dynamic, as it constantly evolves.
Each initiative begins with analysis and data collection to consequently develop case studies that become virtuous examples of successful sustainable management. Then the Consortium, in collaboration with different partners, develops innovative techniques, devices and/or services that facilitate the productive system achieving these ambitious sustainability goals.
Sustainable Prosecco DOC Project: The Environmental Pillar
Protocol and Environmental indicators
The Prosecco DOC Consortium will facilitate this project in each stage of the production chain and will provide meaningful support to wineries in order to achieve a systematic change. The project aims to introduce a management system for sustainability along the supply chain based on the Equalitas Standard. In addition to a viticultural protocol for managing cultivation operations while respecting and protecting the environment, the project includes biodiversity analysis and the calculation of environmental indicators such as the carbon and water footprint at three levels: territory, single wineries and individual products.
The Consortium, in collaboration with the software-house Apra and its partners Enogis and Analysis, has therefore developed a digital system connecting vineyard data, to wineries data to an automatic carbon- and water-footprint calculator connected, in turn, to the Consortium platform. A system that allows the Consortium to calculate the environmental indicators of the Denomination, as well as the ones of each individual vineyard or winery.
Data collection is one of the key elements for the project’s ability to scientifically identify and adopt practices that can make a positive contribution.
Characterizing Prosecco DOC: Zoning, Sustainability and Resilience
Knowing the territory, its characteristics and its needs is the first step toward improving the quality of production and optimizing resources in the vineyard and in the cellar, and consequently, reducing waste.
This is even more important in an area as extensive and varied from a topographical point of view as Prosecco DOC, which spans nine Italian provinces in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions. This is why the Consortium has taken a series of actions to identify homogeneous areas and further enhance the concept of terroir.
The Prosecco DOC area is characterized by a significant diversity of soil and climates with varying effects on production and technological characteristic of grapes. Thanks to large-scale analyses of climate and soil characteristics, the Consortium has developed in collaboration with ABACO Farmer, an Agricultural Knowledge Information System, an interactive zoning-map of the Prosecco territory.
Representative vineyards have been selected for each zone, where different trials are being conducted, with the goal of identifying and planning different types of precision intervention suitable for each specific area. The trials focus on irrigation strategies, canopy management and yield levels.
The ultimate goal is to characterize the DOC, creating a viticultural management model for each homogeneous area identified, which includes the development of models of sustainable viticulture.
All this is considered in relation to climate change, one of the major issues for the world of wine today. In order to support the productive system through this change in vineyard management operations, the Consortium has already launched a “vineyard management educational program”. In addition, it is working to develop a technical support system that will include both specific digital services (for individual farm use but connected to the Consortium Information System) and activities in coordination with local agronomists.
Reduce pesticides use and increase biodiversity
In different areas, characterized by different environmental conditions (and therefore pest and pathogens pressure), trials are currently being conducted at the vineyard level to reduce synthetic pesticides use by increasing the use of biological agents and biostimulants.
On a similar level, a project to understand the relationship between viticulture and bees, through scientific approach, has been launched in 2022. The project of “Bee bio-monitoring” was born in this multi-disciplinary context, responding to the needs of collecting objective information about the Prosecco territory environment and implementing effective measure to protect the bees in vine growing regions.
The project consists of three monitoring sites (apiaries), located in different areas of Prosecco characterized by different environmental conditions and vineyards density. For each site, the beekeeper is registering the beehives management operations as well as the bees’ weekly mortality. A vet also evaluates periodically the bee family strength and their productivity. For each apiary, samples of honey, pollen, beeswax and royal jelly are collected to perform multi-residual analysis and, in the case of pesticides residue, evaluate their possible effect on bees.
At the same time, the winegrowers of surrounding vineyards keep a register for both vineyard management operations, spray schedule and pesticides used. This will allow the identification of the source of the eventual residues found in the beehives (from the vineyard or from the surrounding environment). The comparison between vineyards and beehives data will provide a solid scientific base about the current environmental situation, while helping the Consortium identify and prioritize which vineyard management measures to implement in the Prosecco DOC production protocol, in order to better protect the bees and increasing the territory biodiversity.
The Social Pillar
The sustainability project also focuses on the economic and social pillars, including the adoption of a code of ethics throughout the chain; a digital system for the management of whistleblowing reports; the professional growth of the operators, and constructive communication with local communities.
A case study regarding the relationships of producers with local communities and other stakeholders will be soon launched, and it will include the following points:
- Mapping of social context within a specific test-area.
- Creation of a model to facilitate communication and whistleblowing reports.
- Analysis of reports.
- Elaboration of strategies and services to implement corrective measures and transfer the system to the whole chain.
Similar case studies will be defined in regard to human resources management and MBO. As for the environmental system, an educational program will be developed, to guide and support the operators step by steps throughout the change.
The Economic Pillar
The activities on the economic pillar are basically structured into two levels: at farm/wineries and at appellation level. Regarding the former, with the involvement of Padua University, the goal is to develop a procedure with the ability to monitor the good economic practices:
- Business practices: a management control system for the entire productive process, detailing the sustained (or the future) investments for the environmental and social sustainability.
- Practices toward employees regarding skills development, to the implementation of MBO systems and to the monitoring and improvement of working atmosphere, to achieve social and environmental goals.
Practices toward suppliers, in referment to payment regulations and fair price of the purchased products.
Regarding the appellation’s level, the Consortium is elaborating the medium-term economic risks for the protected product, connected to an evaluation model:
- Of the economic profitability of the winegrowing farms of the territory.
- Of the economic value generated/distributed by the appellation.
In this context, in addition to the close co-operation with the wineries, the Consortium gathers data from different competent bodies and from specialized agencies about the productions and sales in volume and in value of Prosecco DOC.
In the end, this macro-project will enable the collection of data on environmental, social and economic impacts allowing the Consortium to select the best practices to be added to the system, with a view toward continuous improvement.
The aim is to transfer the knowledge and the technologies identified to as many companies as possible in the Prosecco DOC territory in order to achieve a territorial sustainability certification (Sustainable Denomination based on the standard Equalitas) involving at least 60 percent of the Prosecco DOC vineyards.
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