Consorzio Collio 2024 (175x100)

The Chianti Classico “Sustainability Manifesto”: a guideline for the future of the territory

The Consortium’s project is based on reducing the environmental impact and valorizing its “unique” social and cultural resources

The Chianti Classico Consortium is the oldest one in Italy. It is celebrating its 100 year anniversary (as WineNews recently reported), recalling its glorious past while at the same time, looking to the future and opening the door to the path to follow, which is sustainability. They have, therefore, decided to put it down in black and white in the “Chianti Classico Sustainability Manifesto”. The project, briefly, is based on reducing the environmental impact and enhancing the value of the “unique” social and cultural resources of the territory. The Manifesto divides sustainability into three pillars - environmental, first and foremost, then social and cultural - as a common thread for the wine companies of the denomination to follow.
At the event, “Back to the Future”, recently held in Florence in the Salone dei Cinquecento of Palazzo Vecchio, where the famous painter, Giorgio Vasari painted Chianti Classico and its symbol, the Black Rooster, on the ceiling amongst the allegories of the Medici dominions, Carlotta Gori, Director of the Chianti Classico Consortium, illustrated and explained the “Manifesto” in depth, which in effect, has started a new era. Here below is her full speech: “Over the past few months we have asked ourselves how we could celebrate our 100 year anniversary, an extraordinary milestone. Immediately, our first idea was to look forward, and to try, right here, today, to promote a vision, not pretending to match the vision of our founding fathers, of course, but at least to follow the same method; that is, designing the future by protecting the territory and its fruits. Our task, however, will be simpler than theirs was, because we have a solid house on which to continue building, and we have already achieved many objectives. One of these, in particular, is sustainability, following on the path of what has already been produced. It is an important topic, and we had waited to address it because we wanted to try to give it a definition, an identity that would highlight and enhance our qualities and our specific values. We wanted to give distinctive features to sustainability, and to do this we had to study the territory, taking all the time necessary to do so. It is clear to us that the topic of sustainability was created as a movement by a few brilliant entrepreneurs and several enlightened theorists. However, over time it has become a strategic direction for companies, to which academics, legislators, schools, associations, and methodologies have gradually been added, each with their own interests and characteristics as well as their own logic and visions. So, when a Consortium of winemakers decides to address the issue of sustainability, it is necessary to start from our main activity: viticulture”.
“Vitivinicolture”, Carlotta Gori emphasized, “is sustainable when first of all it reduces its impact on the natural environment, respecting the native and non-renewable resources as much as possible; that is, soil, water, air. We must start from the environment that is and must be, the first place to begin. Up until now, the expression “farmer, guardian of the environment” was, so to speak, romantic. Today, instead, it has been elevated to a definition and has, in fact, become part of a law. The law that the cabal would like to be Chianti Classico’s destiny. It is law number 24, dated February 28, 2024 and titled, “Provisions to acknowledge the figure of the farmer who is the guardian of the environment and the territory”. The figure and the activities of the guardian of the environment are outlined, and we (you) are exactly like the description. So, yes, we thank the Legislator who has given us a clear picture of our role and our behavior. However, respect for the territory and the environment is respect for people, “for human resources”. We are native resources as well and we are the fruit of nature. Our collaborators, consultants and citizens in the communities in which we operate are called human resources. Social sustainability is, therefore, the formula that needs to be used to make communities grow. At the same time, viticulture is sustainable when it guarantees continuity and entrepreneurial success. Indeed, the absence of economic sustainability means the absence of business. Furthermore, there is a strong link between sustainability and product quality. Quality corresponds to territoriality. The more nature is respected the more the wines will be able to communicate the territory they belong to”.
And, now we have the “Manifesto for the Sustainability of Chianti Classico” indicating three pillars they call environment, people, culture. “The “Manifesto”, which”, the Director of the Consortium continued, “ we are certain our winemakers, the guardians of the environment, will welcome and will activate and adapt until it becomes a real, certified specification of sustainability in our territory and our production. There are two objectives in our “Manifesto”, which are simply stated. One is reducing the environmental impact through managing the territory, productive surfaces and woods, preserving their characteristics, potential, landscape and biodiversity. The fundamental aspects to focus on, and that should not at all be taken for granted, are care of the vineyards, permeability of the soil, richness of microorganisms in the soil, fertility, healthy plants, respect for nature and animals, and biodiversity as a source of life, ecological and social responsibility”. The second objective is “to enhance growth and affirm the social and cultural resources of the territory. Cultural is the word we must always keep in mind. Our territory and the companies that have always lived it, have for decades been making a fundamental contribution to achieve these objectives and the practical implementation of this vision. These are the solid foundations on which today we are building a new and exclusive project. Here are a few numbers about the territory. 52% of the vineyard area is organic while there are many companies in the process of converting; 62% of the surface is forested and 80% is permanent forest. The companies within the Chianti Classico wine production area are predominantly small or medium-small in size, a phenomenon which demonstrates lack of propensity towards intensive exploitation of the territory. 75% of the companies in the area have less than 10 hectares of vineyards, while 75% of winemakers bottle their product directly. In our territory there are many active aggregative entities, such as the Lega del Chianti, Rural District of Chianti, Biodistrict of Chianti, Foundation for the Protection of the Territory, 11 winegrowers’ associations and the Consortium of PDO Chianti Classico Oil”.
Studying the territory was fundamental to the project, as Gori explained, “we covered it meter by meter, to carry out various projects, perhaps some purposes were not only geared to sustainability. For instance, dividing into Additional Geographical Units (UGA) to enhance the territoriality of our wines. The project was implemented with the help of professionals, and friends in the area, especially Alessandro Masnaghetti. In the summer of 2023, we carried out a check to protect ourselves from phytosanitary risks by way of an exceptional row-by-row verification activity of our vineyards during which we covered 6.000 hectares. Furthermore, the Foundation for the Protection of the Chianti Classico Territory has conducted extraordinary work towards the UNESCO recognition of “The system of Villa Farms in Chianti Classico”, which is at an advanced stage, and has given us an even deeper understanding of how extraordinary our cultural landscape is, and how much work is done every day to protect it. The study revealed a cultural heritage full of values that perhaps we have taken for granted. Here, too, the numbers confirm the study. There are 341 protected historical sites, more than 150 farm villas linked by a mutually visible collaboration relationship; an agricultural mosaic preserved over the centuries through maintenance works where companies are involved in recovering dry stone walls and terraces, and maintaining dirt roads. Over the last 50 years, 74% of the territory has been protected from transformations, remaining unchanged, and only 4% has been subject to changes due to human presence. All of this, in a territory that has continued to produce wealth. Taking into consideration all of the aspects of our study, we realized that the unique and extraordinary cultural value of this land required us to create and implement, for the first time, a sustainability project that includes another element: cultural sustainability. Our real and abstract cultural heritage is made up of tangible assets as well as of knowledge, traditions, values, interactions, contributions to achieving inclusive and sustainable development of territories. It contributes to protecting biodiversity and ecosystems and is therefore an important component of environmental and social sustainability that few territories in the world have. Well, we believe that we are one of these very few territories. Protecting all of this is the reason that we included the topic of cultural sustainability in our “Manifesto”.
The Director of the Consortium illustrated a few details of the data planning program, aimed towards the certification of Sustainable Chianti Classico. It contains 57 requirements, therefore, “guidelines from which winemakers will be able to choose those that best suit their characteristics and their identity, to their programs. We ask them to respect at least half of them, and then, according to an established timetable, to add others to grow the entire territory. The rules are divided into three macro areas. The first one is and must be dominant, because we are farmers: environmental sustainability. We are not only asking our winemakers not to use chemical herbicides, and not to use chemical fertilizers, but to use eco-sustainable, biodegradable, and recyclable materials to revitalize the soil. We ask them not to use agricultural machinery that impacts the vineyard, but to use alternative by-products for agronomic purposes. We also ask them, for instance: to manage and maintain at least 20% of the company's total agricultural area in biodiversity (olive trees, arable land, non-cultivated land, forests); to safeguard bees by ensuring there are crops suitable to pollinating insects on an area equal to at least 5% of the vineyard surface; to maintain the wooded areas and hedges on at least 10% of the vineyard plots; to keep grass on at least two thirds of the vineyard plots; to make more and more viticultural plantings according to the level curves; to use bottles produced with at least 50% recycled glass; and to invest in collecting rainwater and optimizing water resources, to measure the carbon footprint”.
Regarding the second macro-area, social sustainability, Carlotta Gori explained, “we definitely want to go beyond the existing and respected legal rules, which must be the basis on which to build more virtuous behavior, to build a stronger community, and a more cohesive district”. “Our ambition is to see at least 20% of directly employed staff residing in the area, and at least 20% of the suppliers of goods or services establishing operational headquarters in the area. True social inclusion, in other words, where the presence of direct employees belonging to protected or more generally disadvantaged categories is not within the legal limits, but beyond the legal limits. That is to say, it will not be enough for us to have 30% of the least represented gender in companies”.
Finally, the third pillar, cultural sustainability, conceived “as an exceptional identity factor of our sustainability model because the real and abstract cultural heritage accompanies the production of Chianti Classico wine, and increases its typicality and its territoriality, which is how it must be for future generations as well. We think that the principal actions aimed at maintaining the components of the cultural landscape should be included in our “Manifesto”. Many of these, clearly, have been prescribed by the many constraints and landscape plans, but the companies’ commitment goes much further, and these further rules will be part of our protocol. They will include safeguarding buildings, parks, gardens, avenues and inter-farm networks and the unrestricted artifacts that pre-existed the mid-twentieth century are also a value to be protected. Maintaining the villa-farm system must continue to be protected without carrying out actions that compromise its overall perception; preserving the multi-visibile collaboration relationships that magically, and not casually, connect the farm villas in Chianti Classico; maintaining dirt roads and their trees; preserving the courtyards; maintaining trees of a historical nature, including non-monumental ones. We will call on the entrepreneurs in Chianti Classico to commit to and welcome all of these matters, and ask them to intervene where necessary with mitigation works, but also simply to create green car parks and rest areas. We will ask them to increase biodiversity in the crops to increase the environmental value of the territory, so well suited to viticulture and the cultural value of its landscape”.
In conclusion, Gori emphasized, “we know very well that technological evolution in viticulture will have to be applied, and, as in any evolutionary technical process, the business world will not be caught unprepared. Do not think that we are the ones who advocate “happy de-growth”. We will be there providing investments in technology and research; however, our aim will always be safeguarding traditional agricultural practices and identity. The knowledge of the past allows us to assert that today we believe more than ever in sustainability, which means improving the quality of our wines by seeking the maximum from the terroir. Our aim is producing wine, safeguarding all the natural resources for future generations while studying the best methods to obtain the least possible impact on the environment.
And, producing wine while protecting the cultural heritage and enhancing the cultural values that our territory has been the symbol of for hundreds of years”.

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