Allegrini 2018

Wine pioneers: 10 years of sustainability for Salcheto, Europe’s first off-grid winery

In the land of Nobile di Montepulciano, created by Michele Manelli, it has cut emissions by 40% in a decade. Like planting 3,300 trees

Sometimes, the awareness of being small, a drop in the ocean, puts a brake on ideas and projects. At other times, you are so convinced of the validity of your convictions that you try anyway, aware that you will not be able to change the world, but that perhaps others will follow the path you have taken, perhaps making the change a little more “robust”. This is what happens to pioneers, even in the world of wine. As was, in its own way, the Salcheto winery of Michele Manelli, in the land of Nobile di Montepulciano. Inaugurated in 2011, it was the first completely off-grid winery in Italy, the first to be self-sufficient in terms of energy and a pioneer of environmental and social sustainability.
In 10 years, celebrated in these days among the vines, it has managed to save 1.1 million kWh and over 2.3 million kg of avoided CO2eq emissions, the equivalent of planting 3,300 trees from scratch during their life cycle. Thanks to light wells inspired by NASA technologies from the 1950s, which are also used to drop grapes into the cellar, vertical gardens to mitigate the heat outside and maintain the temperature inside, biomasses derived from waste from the vine cycle to produce energy, the study of lighter glass bottles, and so on. A winery that has, in the words of Andrea Rossi, president of the Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, ignited the spark of a change “that today makes us aspire to become the first certified sustainable wine area in Italy”.

“When we started out, the objective was and is to change the paradigm of doing business, which means taking responsibility for the territory and society in which we live, to improve things”, said Michele Manelli, who today has 58 hectares of vineyards and produces 400,000 bottles every year. “We have put together existing technologies and studied new things, with the aim of continually improving, in every aspect, which is the same objective with which we look to the future”. This has been an important path for the winery, which has been the “cradle” of Equalitas certification, now a reference point in Italy and elsewhere, and the first to measure the carbon footprint of the entire life cycle of a bottle along the supply chain, in a 360-degree sustainability project that has seen Salcheto become one of the first Italian wineries to receive, among other awards, the “Robert Parker Green Emblem” from The Wine Advocate.
Ten years ago”, recalled Ermete Realacci, president of the Symbola Foundation for Italian Excellence, among others, “the Symbola Seminar was held in Montepulciano, precisely because an important challenge was about to start: to build the first completely self-sufficient winery from an energy point of view. Salcheto met that challenge and tackled other frontiers, such as building indicators to help interpret these processes in the world of wine. Well, it can be done: tackle the green transition by making companies even stronger and more competitive. It pays to be good”. “I am incredibly proud of the esteem in which the entire supply chain seems to hold us at this moment”, said Michele Manelli, “but even more proud to be able to celebrate it with all the workers and collaborators who have made this adventure possible. We have achieved the objectives of the then Agenda 2020 and it was not to be taken for granted, now we start looking forward to the next goals”.

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