The quality of the wine begins in the vineyard. We’ve always believed this at Viticcio, and therefore we’ve always practiced viticulture with the utmost respect for the environment and for the people who work here, practicing organic and biodynamic agriculture.
In the past several years, we’ve committed ourselves even more deeply to the cause for sustainability and healthy vineyards. We began the move towards organic certification in 2013, and by 2017, all of our products will be certified organic. Of this, eight hectares are in fact biodynamic.
What does being organic or biodynamic mean for a winery? It doesn’t simply mean following specific rules and regulations in order to be certified, although that’s certainly important. It means embracing a certain mindset that respects the natural cycles and times of vine development, and using natural defenses and prevention against diseases, weeds, and the changes in climate. It means practicing patience, too, and allowing for a measure of unpredictability in changes of temperature and the “whims” of the weather.
Organic and biodynamic methods at Viticcio
Our enologist Daniele Innocenti answered some of the most frequently asked questions about organic viticulture. Read on to discover more about the management of our vines and grapes and how it reflects on the final product, our wines.
Since you began organic and biodynamic practices, what differences have you noticed in the wines, soil, and in your work in general?
In my opinion, the wines reflect the terroir more, and they seem more personal and elegant. As a whole, they are richer. When you practice organic viticulture, the quantity of production diminishes, but as a consequence there’s an increase in quality.
The terrain has a greater biodiversity of vegetation, which helps discourage the growth of any one type of weed, and the soils in general are more resilient: they have greater capacity and resistance, overall.
What are the biodynamic methods that you practice?
Deep tilling, sowing particular mixes of seeds and herbs, making the preparations 500 and 501 (cow horn manure and cow horn silica), and stimulating the natural defense mechanisms of plants by using herbal infusions (Equisetum and nettle).
What are the pesticides and chemicals allowed in non-organic production, and how are these noted in the wines?
To protect the health of our vines, we simply use copper and sulfur. For the production of our wines, at the moment we’re doing some trial and error practices, and in our case we use only potassium metabisulfite. In fact, according to organic regulations we could use additional products, but we choose to use fewer and make our wines in the most natural way possible.
What are differences in production and the final wine between organic and non-organic wineries?
I think organic wineries have greater difficulties in managing emergencies, especially if it’s not done in a timely manner. And unfortunately, there’s little we can do about climate change and major weather events, which can really damage the vineyards. When these things happen, conventional wineries that don’t use organic practices can use chemicals that help the vines recover faster.
In organic wineries, the secret to success is damage prevention and good vineyard management. In addition, it’s important to remember that with organic wine, you produce quality, not quantity.
Practicing organic agriculture is not difficult, and I tell people that it means thinking about tomorrow. Biodynamic agriculture is already a different thing, because in addition to the management of the non-grapevine vegetation and of the soil, there are esoteric concepts that influence and connect to the whole system, which can be challenging to interpret.