Heroic viticulture

In the wine glossary, there is a very fascinating word which is “heroic” viticulture; this word is used to identify all those entities, for cultivation and management of the vine, in which the conditions are extreme both for the life of the plant and for the work of man.

We are talking about small plots of land, characterised by a high gradient of more than 30%, an extreme altitude of more than 500m above sea level, astonishing landscapes and steep steps, which make it possible to work the land. Finally, island wine-growing, such as that of Giglio or Ischia, would also belong to this group.

Therefore, at least one of these requirements is needed to define heroic viticulture.

Another interesting thing about these crops is that they are often referred to as pre-phylloxera vines.

In fact, in the first half of the 19th century, phylloxera destroyed around 80% of European vines, but spared those vineyards that were too extreme and therefore difficult to reach.

While we have been talking about orographic characteristics up to this point, I think it is also important to mention other types of effort, which, although they do not have the epithet heroic, could be called brave: they are all those entities that day after day come up against territories and social fabrics that are not yet ready for a certain type of work, understood as qualitative and innovative.

In a country like Italy, which boasts the highest productivity in the world, with 600,000 hectares under vine and 20 production regions, it is not uncommon to encounter situations in which wine-growing, although it has existed for a long time, is not associated with a concept of quality production, but rather with that of quantity, tradition and self-consumption.

Often remote and isolated places, forgotten by the administrations themselves, where the mentality has remained rooted in wine-growing techniques and practices that are now antiquated, or even harmful to the land and to man.

Those who clash with this view are, in fact, misunderstood.

So, this too, in my opinion, is courageous and heroic: having the tenacity to teach people to change their minds, to show what a place could offer if put in a position to do so, to have the foresight and knowledge to imagine a different future for territories that are too often neglected, and finally, to have the audacity to invest in one’s own dreams.

Ilaria Giardini
Tenuta Liliana Staff

Planting of a new vineyard in Contrada Specchia, Parabita, South Italy

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