Allegrini 2018

Happiness in the vineyard, concern about the markets: the 2020 harvest for small producers in Italy

The mood of many wineries in Italy in the words of Matilde Poggi, president of the Federazione Italiana Vignaioli Indipendenti (Fivi)
Matilde Poggi, at the head of the Federazione Italiana Vignaioli Indipendenti

With the markets still suffering the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic, which although at a less frenetic rate continues its spread in the world, and the many difficulties of the Horeca channel, between the tourist season almost over, and the arrival of autumn, which will inevitably reduce the number of seats in restaurants, which so far have been able to exploit the outdoor spaces, the world of Italian wine is certainly not in its best season. At least look at the markets. Because from the vineyard, all in all, come positive sensations for a harvest, 2020, which is starting in many territories of Italy, in a topical moment for the life of all the wineries of the Belpaese. Including the many small and very small realities, most of the productive fabric of Italian wine. The state of mind of which is summarized, to WineNews, by Matilde Poggi, guide of the Federazione Italiana Vignaioli Indipendenti (Fivi). “The “traditional” markets, which have always given us great satisfaction, like the USA, are now in great difficulty due to the pandemic”. A fact, acclaimed, as is the hard blow suffered, at national level, by tourism strongly penalized, even in the winery. “What is missing - explains Poggi - are above all the wine tourists, who for us are always a very important part of the budget, from what we can sell directly in the winery. Also because we are, for the most part, small companies, we don’t have a worldwide distribution, sometimes we don’t even have distribution in all the main European countries, and instead we rely heavily on the tourists who come, stay and buy. But at the moment, everything is practically stopped: I have a company near Lake Garda, and I must say that in August we worked well, there was good tourism, and therefore, not with the numbers of the previous years, but we worked. In other areas instead people tell me that tourists have yet to arrive”.

But, if from the markets the future seems all uphill, some satisfaction arrives: this is, for winemakers of the Belpaese, the moment to keep their feet firmly on the ground, that of the vineyard. The harvest, in fact, in many territories has already begun, from the whites to the more precocious varieties, and in many others they are preparing for the harvest. “We are always happy in this phase - says Poggi - because for us the harvest is a bit like the completion of everything that has been done during the year. I have already spoken with many winemakers from different parts of Italy who have already started the harvest, and I must say that the grapes are excellent, they also seem to be balanced. In terms of quantity, some areas are abundant, others are scarce: in some cases, they tell me, they are harvesting half the quantity of last year. I notice - she continues - that in some vineyards there is still a little bit of discrepancy: it seemed as if we were fast approaching the moment of harvesting, and instead now we notice that some areas are still a bit behind, with discrepancies even in the same vineyard. So I think that in the end, despite the thunderstorms in recent days, which have lowered temperatures especially at night, the harvest will be a bit delayed compared to what we imagined”.
In short, this is a difficult moment of great concern for the world of wine, even if “fortunately we have just received the news that Trump and the U.S. administration have decided not to include Italian wine in the duties, which was another sword of Damocles”, with measures arrived from the Government that, at least according to Fivi, were not entirely sufficient, or suitable, such as the decrease in yields, “of which I am aware that some winemakers in some territories took advantage, while other territories snubbed it a bit”, or distillation, which “was not interesting, but we had said so from the start, because the premiums were too low. While at the European level, for many independent French and Slovenian winemakers, for example, it was a welcome measure: but these were absolutely other figures. We would have liked so much, instead, to have started private storage, but to date, the regions have not taken it into consideration, if not the Marche, with even a fairly limited budget. But this is a measure that winemakers would have liked very much”, there have also been initiatives that, “with the right application, and the necessary controls, can be interesting”, such as the catering bonus, which, while waiting for the implementing decree, has made available 600 million euros to help restaurants to buy PDO and PGI products made in Italy. A positive measure but which, perhaps, arrives a little late... “Among the measures that we had proposed in lockdown - says Poggi - there was that of supporting the catering industry, either with a facilitated VAT for the purchase of Italian wine, or in any case with some form of tax relief, because it is absolutely a sector that is important to us, and is suffering a lot. Well, then, the catering bonus, but let’s remember that we are approaching autumn, where so many stallages will no longer be able to be used, and with the distance measures the numbers that can be done in restaurants will be even lower than today”.

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