Allegrini 2024

SOStain Sicily Foundation: new challenges of one of the first “area-based” sustainability projects

Starting with a partnership with Consorzio Vini Etna to bring small companies closer to the protocol and assist them in the best practices developed

Thirty-seven registered members (there were 14 in 2021), 22 certified wineries (there were 5 also in 2021) with 32,000 associated vineyard hectares of which 5,000 are certified. But, growing numbers aside, however significant, in the future of the SOStain Sicilia Foundation, one of the first projects on “terroir” and all-round sustainability in Italian wine and in Italy, set up in 2020 at the impetus of Doc Sicilia and Assovini Sicilia to promote a program of measurable good practices useful for protecting our eco-system, there are many important new developments involving new institutions, new associations and new sponsor-partners (the Consorzio di Tutela Vini Etna, the company Amorim Cork Italia and the Allianz Umana Mente Foundation) active in contributing to the cause of an association that wants to be community above all and a driving force for increasingly widespread and shared sustainability. Presenting them at “Vinitaly 2023” was Foundation President Alberto Tasca.
Newly signed on April 2, 2023, is the agreement signed with the Consorzio Tutela Vini Etna: “we immediately joined the partnership with SOStain”, explained the president of the Consorzio Etna, Francesco Cambria, at the meeting in Verona moderated by RAI host Federico Quaranta, “as soon as Alberto Tasca asked us to find a way to bring small wineries closer to the protocol, assisting them along a path that is difficult and onerous. Etna is an area characterized by this type of wineries, and I believe that this adhesion is just the beginning to get to the point of transforming the entire denomination-not just individual wineries-into a fully certified territory”. Therefore, SOStain Sicilia's goal of spreading the good practices developed so far, trying to lend a hand to those who cannot make it for a variety of reasons, remains unchanged.
Falling within the same spirit of social equity is the agreement closed with the Allianz Umana Mente Foundation: it is called “EduSOStain” and involves vulnerable individuals-people with mental distress or young people at risk of social marginalization-who, through the wineries and training they will provide, will be able to access a possible future. Sustainable agriculture will of course be the topic of training and will find two concrete applications: one run in collaboration with the Itaca Project (https://www.progettoitacapalermo.org/index/), which involves the setting up and daily care of a social and organic vegetable garden and the management of a point of sale in the city of Palermo; the second, on the other hand, involves training courses in both agriculture, marketing and commerce, sustainable crop management.
Amorim Cork, on the other hand, is a new sponsor of the Foundation, and like all sponsors they are also an active part of the project. In this case, the collaboration starts, of course, with the Ethical Project, which deals with the collection and recycling of corks to produce, in this case, the Xpür Vintage Qork, which contains the highest percentage of cork on the market. But it doesn't stop there: the principles on which SOStain is founded are, in fact, shared by the Portuguese-born company, which has also made social sustainability its own by adhering to the Family Audit project, a human resources management tool that aims to help work-life balance, equal treatment of its employees and their job satisfaction. “We are convinced that we can contribute our experience to the reflection on 360-degree sustainability that SOStain is inspired by”, commented Carlo Veloso do Santos, managing director of Amorim Cork Italia.
Instead, the collaboration continues with I-O, a leading international company in the production of glass containers-represented by marketing manager Ernesto Ghigna-which has managed to build through SOStain a complete supply chain (involving consumers, municipalities and the company Sarco, which treats the glass to make it ready for fusion) capable of producing wine bottles composed of 90 percent Sicilian recycled glass, lightweight (just over 400 grams) and branded with a logo specially designed for SOStain.
A flag of local development that is by no means taken for granted, unique in Italy, and made possible by a long chain of responsible people who have decided to coordinate their energies to get to produce the first batch of “closed-loop economy” bottles in May 2023.
Like anyone who is serious about environmental sustainability, however, the Foundation faces a serious communication problem. According to a Wine Meridian study presented by editorial director Fabio Piccoli, in fact, while consumers choose products based on origin, prices and “green” factors - rewarding the efforts of companies that work in a transparent, responsible and low-impact way on the environment - confusion reigns today about the term “sustainable”. In fact, this concept contains within itself many variables - from the protection of the landscape to the healthiness of the soil, water and the product itself, from decent social management to holistic environmental management - which disorients and disaffects consumers or even drives them away, because it is overused, misused for a long time, or as a lark’s mirror. Even because it invokes huge and complex problems that people feel they cannot solve. The many existing certifications certainly have not helped.
However, if the credibility of individual companies has lost ground, among consumers there is growing trust in sustainable territories, where there is consistency, a sense of responsibility and widespread community. This is a sensibility that Sicily is beginning to intercept, precisely because the activities of the SOStain Foundation were born from the spontaneous collaboration of a handful of key players, who strongly wanted to involve colleagues, institutions and research for a shared, clear and viable project (thanks also to the continuous exchange between the Foundation’s scientific committee and organizational committee). “A pact made between companies, between research and technology, between the association and consumers that seeks to strike a balance”, according to Lucrezia Lamastra, head of the Foundation’s Scientific Committee, “between asking a lot without asking too much, between striving for development without plundering”, keeping the well-being of nature and Sicily at the center. “In this sense, I believe that the SOStain group is one of the most advanced and visionary in existence today”, summed up Stevie Kim, managing director of Vinitaly International, “summarizing well what sustainability means and how it can be done, leading the way on a possible path”.

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