mercoledì 17 settembre 2014

Tuscany’s agrarian countryside and its economy

Tuscany’s agrarian countryside is so beautiful and precious that it’s almost unsettling. Today, we still define it as our most internationally recognised territory… all you have to do is say its name.
Remembering those who have passed this message down through times old and new, we are extremely proud to live this unique territory, even if daily exposure sometimes prevents us from fully seeing its inevitable change.
Italy, and Tuscany’s agrarian landscape in particular, as described in numerous historical texts and in modern and sophisticated research and multidisciplinary studies, has dynamics that must be understood in their economic and social entirety.

Finding harmony between the wine economy and agrarian countryside is never easy. I’m reminded of my Langhe, which, in the space of two or three decades, has “filled” with vineyards that create views of inestimable beauty, but also diverse increased “fragility”.
Or I observe Monferrato Casalese, which, in a few short decades, has almost completely lost its vineyard - the most important historical vineyard in Piedmont. And Tuscany, an ancient wine territory that has experienced strong surface reductions, but since the beginning of the ‘70s, (thanks to ‘piani quadrifoglio’), has become an area of new vineyard-intensive “conquest”: Piedmont-style techniques… the Venetians brought new cultivation guidelines, a significant reduction in production costs and an important change to the agrarian scenery.

Extensive vineyards in Maremma Tuscany
I maintain that it would be ungracious to cast reprehensible judgment on the many companies that, through substantial commitment and some underestimation of the environmental impacts, have in a few short years, relaunched a taste and, above all, the name of Tuscany back onto the world stage.
Today’s caretakers of the territory should certainly run for cover and interact with intelligent business practices to draw attention to, educate and avoid inopportune choices, but also come up with more appropriate solutions.
If you make wine in Tuscany today, you must thank the ancestral nature of the mixed farming and terraces that have safeguarded the soil for centuries, together with the ancient wisdom, which is all too often swept away in a wave of gigantic crawler trucks… like a fire in a library. Soil quality should, first and foremost, be the focus of territorial investment and its conscientious use over time, and not the hill or whether it’s scenic.
Profitability, beauty and health are common goals and we must therefore work together to achieve them in economic endeavours and for their protection.

I maintain that this awareness should not, in any way, divide workers or create silly rivalries. The world of wine needs economic synergies and everyone has to contribute if we are to access longer-lasting benefits. A master plan for vineyards (and not only) is a must: a few rules for farsighted benefits from business practices and landscape context to soil fertility. We could start from the certainty that we all depend on the productive capacity of land over time and its biological quality. Work needs to done both in the arrangement of contour ploughing and vertical ploughing (rittochino) - the latter has many more risks… and therefore requires greater technical knowledge to formulate the proper remedies. To be a little more “conservative” with the natural resources of the agrarian landscape is an absolute necessity and requires a more conscientious and consistent effort because it was a primary economic challenge yesterday and will be even more of one tomorrow.

But does Tuscany need to copy the vineyard models set in Australia, California and… in some parts of Europe? Economy is derived from the fruits of the land, but also from its composite and lasting beauty that few are fortunate enough to possess.

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