Situated at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Sicily’s wine tradition combines its natural bounty with sustainable production and a deep sense of self. Sixty-five percent of its hills are devoted to viticulture, making it Italy’s largest hillside wine region, and Sicily is second only to Trentino Alto Adige in Italian mountain viticulture.
Increasingly, what animates Sicilian winemakers is promoting, developing, and preserving the natural and oenological heritage of the island. Organic farming is intimately linked to this principle.
“Sustainability is one of the strengths naturally inherent in Sicilian wine: suffice it to say that Sicily has the largest organic vineyard in Italy,” explains Antonio Rallo, president of the Consorzio di Tutela Vini Doc Sicilia. “In fact, Sicily accounts for 34% of Italy’s organic surface area, followed by Puglia which stands at 16-17%. In addition, more than 75% of the island’s vineyard area, characterised by an enormous varietal wealth and a climate naturally suited to sustainable production, is cultivated according to integrated pest management practices.”
The Sicilian wine-growing sector is increasingly aware that only by respecting nature can winemakers produce quality wines. Sustainability is key to the future of Sicilian wine. Sicilia DOC has become the seventh-best-known denomination worldwide. Thanks to its efforts, territorial denominations are increasingly using the name ‘Sicilia’ on their labels.
The Mediterranean climate that the island enjoys is an asset to its commitment to sustainability and organic production. As has been noted in recent years, it is not particularly affected by the rise in average temperatures due to climate change.
And so, the Consorzio di Tutela Vini Doc Sicilia and Assovini Sicilia has established the SOStain Sicilia Foundation. Its aim is to guide wineries to measure and reduce the impacts their agronomic and oenological practices have on the region, as well as to facilitate sharing eco-friendly best practices and transparent consumer communication.
With the creation of this foundation, Sicily becomes the first Italian region to develop a unified, integrated sustainability protocol that speaks to the needs of producers. The ultimate goal is environmentally friendly, socially equitable and economically efficient development, and to make SOStain synonymous with green development in Italy and worldwide.
“The future can no longer be separated from the sustainable management of the land, and for this we need clear rules and structured research to implement the best solutions,” says Alberto Tasca, president of SOStain Sicilia. “The SOStain Sicilia Foundation was created precisely to preserve Sicily’s immense natural heritage, promoting a protocol among wineries that uses rigorous scientific indicators to determine exactly what effect each action we take in the vineyard, in the cellar and throughout the organization in general has and to reduce our impact. It is certainly a demanding approach, which must always be certified by an independent body, but it is now extremely important for the future of our territory and an inspiration for future generations. This is the only way we can pass on to those who will come after us a territory that is intact, alive and capable of restoring, in the products that come from its land, that unique and unobtainable mix of factors that make Sicily one of the most appreciated Mediterranean islands in the world.”