Allegrini 2018

Paolo Pizzarotti’s vision: the future of wine will be higher quality, and healthier

WineNews interviewed one of the top building contractors in Italy, at the helm of the Impresa Pizzarotti, and wine producer at Monte delle Vigne

The future of wine, in the long term, will be higher and higher quality and healthier products, sustainability for the environment and the process to produce them. In other words, everything will depend on restarting and vaccinations; but in the meantime, it is more than probable that more than a few Italian wineries, especially the small ones, will not be able to survive this “desert crossing”. This is the vision of an Italian entrepreneur and producer who is accustomed to building, literally. We are talking about Paolo Pizzarotti, Cavaliere del Lavoro (Knight of the order of merit for labor), at the helm of the Pizzarotti Group, including Impresa Pizzarotti, one of the most important and historic Italian construction companies, founded in 1920. The company has put its signature on many important works, like highways, railways, terminals and ports, in Italy, and around the world. Further, for over 30 years he has been a wine producer at Cantina Monte delle Vigne, a wine company that has 40 hectares of vineyards in the Colli di Parma DOC area, between the Taro River Park and the Boschi di Carrega Natural Park near the Monte Prinzera Nature Reserve. Plus, starting from the 2021 harvest, it will be entirely organic. “Li Monti de le Vigne”, as Frà Salimbene de Adam, who lived in the thirteenth century, wrote in his “Medieval Chronicles”, talking about the rolling hills of Ozzano Taro, renowned for the art of winemaking.
“The immediate future is very clear; it is obvious that everything will depend on vaccinations”, Paolo Pizzarotti explained to WineNews, “because until the country restarts, and restaurants and bars reopen, in Italy, but also in most of the world, consumption keeps decreasing enormously. We are now getting prepared for it and hoping we can start again in the shortest time possible. In the meanwhile, we have become an organic winery, and we are also working towards becoming biodynamic in the near future. We are trying to make better and better wines, but since they then have to be sold, it is necessary for the market that currently no longer exists, to return”. Many people have predicted that once the pandemic is over, a new era will open, even for wine, instead of returning to normal. “Some things will change. Surely”, Pizzarotti said, “there will be fewer wine companies, because I fear that many will not survive this tragic moment, at least, the small businesses. Then, wine to be established and sold, must not only be higher quality, but also healthier. In the end, the sales channels will remain the same, mainly the mass retail channel on one hand and HORECA (hotels, restaurants, catering) on the other. As usual, those who already have a strong brand will have an advantage over those who don't, or those who are still building it”. Therefore, everything related to healthiness and sustainability will be fundamental. “Sustainability has always been on our minds. Before planting the vineyards (the Monte delle Vigne winery was founded in 1983, ed.) on the farm (100 hectares of land Paolo's father, Pietro Pizzarotti, bought in 1963), dairy cattle were raised there, and even at that time the land was cultivated biologically, with alfalfa and wheat. We started with perfect soils for the environment and installed photovoltaic on the wine cellar. I have always believed in sustainability on a personal level. For 6 months out of the year, I live in the area where I have vineyards, and I have always liked living in a healthy environment”. Obviously, the future of Italian wine will be played out in a broader context, within the future of Italy that is still tackling the usual knots, which are never unraveled, starting from the weight of bureaucracy. “The bureaucracy in Italy”, said Pizzarotti, “exists in a few other countries in the world, but none in Europe. The length of civil and criminal trials discourages any foreign investment, as it can take up to 10 years to get a final sentence even on any tax disputes; it is indecent. At best, someone from abroad comes to buy when conditions are extremely advantageous for those buying. Therefore, we need to take a huge step forward in digitization, and in knowing how to decide. Ours is a country that no longer decides anything”.
However, those in business, as usual, are trying to look to the future. And, Monte delle Vigne, which has just renewed its board to include, besides the president, Paolo Pizzarotti, also Michele, his son, Lorenzo Numanti, CEO, and Andrea Bonini, superintendent to production in the countryside and in the winery, under the advice of the winemaker, Luca D’Attoma, one of the first in Italy to practice organic viticulture. D’Attoma has been acknowledged as one of the greatest experts in the field and is highly appreciated for his rigorous and innovative approach. In 2020, the company managed to resist, despite the current health emergency. The company has a plan to re-launch exports in 2021, eager to significantly increase its share, now at 15%, looking especially to the US, the UK, Germany and Northern Europe. “We are looking abroad, but we care deeply about the place where our story began, which is the love of nature and the environment that surrounds Monte delle Vigne. In the future, we would like to increase the knowledge of the characteristics and beauty of these places through the quality of our wines”, declared Paolo Pizzarotti. “My father’s dream was to bring these lands back to viticulture, and his dream has come true”. The dream is continuing from the organic viewpoint, as Monte delle Vigne’s sustainable path that started in 2016 has now been achieved – starting from the 2021 harvest, it will be entirely organic and certified by the ICEA - Institute for Ethical and Environmental Certification.
Respect for nature and traditions are the inspirational principles to protecting the heritage and identity of the Parma Hills and have guided their path from the beginning. The company has, for several years, limited the use of plant protection products in the vineyard and has chosen natural and minimally invasive techniques, sown green manure to control weeds naturally, rejecting chemical desiccants, and implemented a cautious dosage of available water resources. Work in the wine cellar involves recycling procedures for materials and the structure itself has been designed with a view to energy efficiency, to minimize the environmental impact.
The energy supply for the underground wine cellar is guaranteed by photovoltaic and solar thermal systems to continually reduce carbon footprint: over 35% of the energy used is auto-produced. One of the aims the Parma company intends to increase in the next few years is using electricity obtained from renewable sources. “Even though we are experiencing a complex period, we are now on the eve of an epoch making year for Monte delle Vigne”, Lorenzo Numanti, the managing director stated. “We want to deal with the challenges we are facing aware that the only possible choice is to have the health of our planet and of those who inhabit it, close at heart. We have set the goal of enhancing our vineyards and eliminating any invasive dynamics for a zero-impact future, through organic farming, to narrate the unique stories of great terroirs, great vineyards and great wines”. “At Monte delle Vigne we want to protect our land and develop sustainable viticulture in a natural balance”, concluded the president Paolo Pizzarotti, “encouraging research of the most advanced methodologies to counteract the now evident climate changes and increase the quality of our wines. It is not an easy path, but it is extremely stimulating, which we hope to be able to pursue and refine”.

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