Allegrini 2018

Sustainability put into practice: the “pills” of six leading Equalitas-certified

The case histories of Torrevento, Ricci Curbastro, Ornellaia, Feudi di San Gregorio, Salcheto and Duca di Salaparuta

If, as argued by those who lead the bodies that certify wine, many of the wine consumers and laymen do not understand the true value of PDO and PGI certifications, not only in terms of origin, but also in terms of the safety of what ends up in the glass, similarly, voluntary wine sustainability certifications are poorly understood by consumers. Despite their growing visibility on the label, which grows in parallel with the market’s sensitivity to the issue of sustainability, in fact, it does not help, however, the presence of several standards that are not superimposable with each other, because they do not all cover all the pillars of sustainability. Which, on the other hand, is the basis of the celebrated and now “dominant” Equalitas certification, which does not stop at good practices of respect for the environment, but also includes the ethical, social and economic aspects of the term. Here again, after years of important and necessary disclosure to companies about the protocol and the pillars that support it, particularly the environmental one, Equalitas has also “changed direction” in communication by focusing on the ethical-social sustainability narrative. This is an aspect that not only reaches the consumer in a simpler and more direct way, but also highlights the important role that entrepreneurs and their companies can play in pulling on virtuous paths the territories on which they insist. Recounting their experiences in this area were-in “Pills of Sustainability” in Milan - six of the more than two hundred Equalitas-certified companies: Ornellaia, Ricci Curbastro, Torrevento, Feudi di San Gregorio, Salcheto and Duca di Salaparuta.

“There are many good stories in the world of wine”, Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, president of Equalitas, pointed out at the opening, “and companies now, five years after the first Equalitas certifications, are questioning how to personalize their approach to sustainability and how to leave a distinctive mark to improve the entire wine sector throughout the production process. I believe that storytelling, which has become a marketing tool, needs to be overcome in order to tell credible and authentic stories not only about the product, but also about the relationships between people and the environment and among people themselves, because sustainability has a very broad meaning. Many of our member wineries, including those present today, have given space for creativity and created unprecedented initiatives that help the environment, but also less fortunate people or those seeking social redemption, making them part of an inclusive and educational journey”.

Torrevento’s sensitivity to sustainability, in the broadest sense, dates back many years. The Corato (Bari) - based company was a promoter of the Alta Murgia National Park, the first “rural” park in Italy, defying a bureaucracy not yet accustomed to hearing about alternative energy 30 years ago. Today, with the project “A mano libera senza sbarre” - told with passion and a certain modesty by president Francesco Liantonio - the company gives a hundred inmates of Trani prison the chance to work outside the prison and produce tarallini, according to a traditional recipe, in an old farmhouse made available by the diocese of Andria, giving some the chance to reintegrate into society and others, who will have to remain in prison, to live with greater dignity, as well as earn a few euros. “Sustainability is also altruism without making proclamations”, Liantonio concluded. Environmental and economic sustainability can exist if there is ethical and social sustainability. Companies can be models to tow the whole territory”.

The Ricci Curbastro company’s project “The Three Vines of the Tree” - the first for the production from sustainable forests of wine containers, the second life in wine elevation and the third life in reuse to produce artificial nests to be placed in vineyards for insectivorous birds - is also aimed at inmates, who, in the Alexandria Prison, transform staves from barrels and barriques into nests. In the future, the project, developed in collaboration with the Social Cooperative Ideas on the Run, will continue by studying other recoveries of the staves. “This is a circular sustainability project”, explained Gualberto Ricci Curbastro, a young lever of the Capriolo (Brescia)-based company, “for the recovery of wood and people”.

Instead, Ornellaia’s celebrated “Vendemmia d’Artista” is geared toward supporting a museum institution, adding to the environmental efforts of the Frescobaldi group's Castagneto Carducci (Livorno) winery. “The project was born in 2009”, said Fabrizio Vernetti, supply chain and sustainability manager, “with a limited edition label by a contemporary artist inspired by the vintage and with the bottles sold at auction at Sotheby’s. To date we have raised more than 2 million euros donated to the Guggenheim in NewYork to support the Mind’s Eye project, which fosters the development of multisensory art for the blind and will be extended to the Foundation’s entire network of museums around the world”.

Feudi di San Gregorio, again, has long been committed to increasing the well-being of the winery and of the entire Irpinia community, concretized in a series of initiatives that invite producers and consumers to the preservation and enhancement of the Irpinian territory and for this already a Benefit Society. “In Italy almost everywhere there is viticulture integrated with other crops and small towns communities persist”, said Antonio Capaldo, president of the Sorbo Serpico (Avellino) winery, before representing his reality as a sphere composed of several layers. “The core of the sphere”, he explained, “is the family, the ownership that has the task of growing, stimulating and making people feel good, including economically, to create a solid community that believes in the same values. Then there are the others, the givers and the other companies. In Irpinia there was no latifundium, and our 300 hectares are scattered over 800 parcels. The other 200 are those of our conferees who have been working on the same plots for generations. We apply our values to them, entering into supply chain contracts and doing training, for example with the pruning school. The outermost layer of the sphere is that of the territory on which we work together with the San Gennaro Community Foundation for the involvement of marginalized youth through art, monumental recovery, and music”. The Foundation (ed. of which Feudi is a founding partner) is committed to overcoming youth social hardship through the enhancement of the historical-artistic heritage and human capital of Naples’ Rione Sanità. As part of this commitment, Feudi San Gregorio, since 2014, has involved well-known contemporary artists in the creation of site-specific works, filmed in limited edition labels, the proceeds of which are fully donated to fund the Foundation’s own projects.

The latest “sustainability pill”, in order of “appearance”, is that of Duca di Salaparuta, the first Sicilian company to obtain Equalitas certification in 2020. “We have created a synergy with the Le Vie dei Tesori Association”, Claudia Piccinini of the Sicilian group recounted, “with the aim of supporting and spreading the cultural and artistic heritage that Sicily can boast. For the Festival of Treasures, organized by the Association, monuments, historic villas are made available to the public throughout the month of October, and we contribute the proceeds from visits to our historic wineries: Florio in Marsala (Trapani), Duca di Salaparuta and Corvo in Casteldaccia (Palermo)”.

But the horizon of ethical-social sustainability expands with a new tool to implement stakeholder governance and face new challenges: the recognition of “Benefit Company” which, based on the 2015 law that, first in Europe, Italy introduced, has been obtained by more than 1,000 Italian companies. “If the entrepreneur is aware of the role he can assume in his territory”, stressed Laura Bettinelli (Assobenefit), “he can work miracles. Doing business in this case coincides with being sustainable at 360 degrees”. And with this in mind, Assobenefit and Equalitas signed a memorandum of understanding to promote the formation and development of benefit and sustainable companies in Italy.

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