From page 45 of the balance sheet and something from Stefano Cosma’s article (but without copying)
“Those who dedicate themselves to beekeeping must also be convinced that bees are of no harm to fruit and grapes; (…) on the contrary, by suggesting the humours that flow from the wounds caused to the fruit by wasps, hail, etc., they determine an effective defence against rotting. (…) Beekeeping and agriculture must therefore be considered inseparable terms of the same activity’.
Antonio Zappi Recordati, “Apicoltura rzionale”, 1938
Bees and agriculture: an inseparable pair. Indeed, bees play a fundamental role in agriculture, favouring the pollination of flowers and consequently affecting the quality of fruit.
Their presence is an important indicator of the health of the surrounding environment. The bee itself acts as a guarantor of the healthiness of its habitat, as certain levels of pollution cause its demise. Bees therefore perform the function of ‘environmental sentinels of the land’ precisely because they are very sensitive to changes in the ecosystem as a result of human action. The decline in their numbers is therefore an indication of a worsening quality of the environment in which we live.
Among the commitments that Venica&Venica undertakes to preserve the biodiversity of the Collio territory is precisely the sensitivity to the world of bees. In order to favour their presence, in fact, for some time now the company has been hosting around thirty beehives in Località Cerò, in an area located between the woods and the vineyards not far from the winery. In addition, another six families (beehives) have been positioned in the vineyard furthest from the main body of the company, in Ruttars.
Our lives and those of the entire planet depend on the tireless work of these insects. Bees are responsible for the pollination of as many as 400 species of plants necessary for human and animal life and are also able to disseminate their seeds in the environment, thus contributing to the maintenance of lush flora.
It is easy at this point to understand their importance and the need for a collective effort to preserve their existence. The joint work of winegrowers and beekeepers can indeed save bees from extinction and improve the health of the environment at the same time!
The presence of these insects in the vineyard becomes a tangible sign of the use of eco-sustainable processes and the absence of chemicals and, like any other element of biodiversity, is synonymous with product safety.
In addition, the benefits that the presence of bees brings to our grapes are also fundamental: the action of these insects acts as a yeast carrier on the skin of the fruit and helps, through the healing effect that is carried out on the berry, to keep diseases such as acid rot and wounds caused by atmospheric agents such as hail under control.
In vineyards with beehives, the ability of the plants to increase grape production has been observed, particularly in rainy years. This is because the bee also acts as a pollinator in vine plants. Furthermore, by acting as a yeast carrier, fermentations in the cellar are more regular.
So, long live the bees and their meticulous and tireless work!
“…Then an old man, who had an inn, asked: – Tell us about eating and drinking – And he said: I wish you could live on the earthly perfume, nourished like a plant by the light…-”
(The Eating and Drinking – K.Gibran)
(pp.44-45 of the Report with some additions)
The things in red I added, if you want to check
That scent of damp earth, mown grass and undergrowth that reminds us of the carefree afternoons of our childhood in the country…
The scent of the earth tells us so much about its state of health and, even if it is intangible and not objectively measurable, when it is good it gives us an intimate pleasure that warms the heart and lets us know we are on the right track.
We like to consider our approach as close as possible to a virtuous cycle consisting of the natural resources borrowed from the planet, our management of the land and vineyards that our ancestors entrusted to us, and our production strategy.
It is in our vision, in fact, to consider this magnificent territory as a heritage that has been entrusted to us to be not only safeguarded but also enhanced. Safeguarding the environment that surrounds us is a duty towards the next generations, and it is an honour for us to be its ambassadors by implementing good practices in the management of the land and vineyards that our ancestors have left in our care. On the other hand, respect for nature is one of the precious values handed down to us by grandfather Daniele and, later, by father Adelchi, sentinel of the territory.
We have therefore well understood that, in this cycle, every one of our daily actions has an impact and that we have the future of our children in our hands and under our feet. Being sustainable means first and foremost acting consciously: knowing, reflecting, deciding, planning and acting – in other words, ‘doing good to do good’.
This is why we adopt good practices throughout our production chain and why respect for the environment is also a fundamental selection criterion when choosing our partners.
We “walk the vineyard” to rediscover these founding values, passed down in our family from generation to generation and re-interpreted in the light of a modern and rigorous approach, with strong scientific and technical foundations. This approach, together with scientific research, has led us to rediscover our environmental identity and to operate an agronomic and social management made up of good daily practices to take care of the environment, people and the community in which we live.
“Walking the vines” means embarking on a path of observation and planning that is attentive to the plant, its roots, the soil in which they live and take shape, and the surrounding environment of which we feel like custodians. Taking the time to observe it, assess and perceive its needs, analyse its criticalities and work out solutions. It means experiencing the vineyard and thus getting to know each row of it: the objective must be to guide each individual plant, and the vineyard as a whole, to express its potential to the full in the perspective of our oenological project.
Page 45-46 balance
The soil is the home of the roots of our beloved vines, and our primary objective must be to make it welcoming to every form of life that resides there, so as to create the best conditions for the efficiency of the plant and respect the biodiversity of its habitat.
In fact, it is also one of the pillars of life on earth, and if we want to feel worthy of being considered custodians of the land, we must think about its health, its value for biodiversity and for every biological process that takes place in it.
Our aim is therefore to nourish it and protect it: the soil is at the heart of the vineyard system, too often forgotten. The plant is linked to the soil for life and therefore we must ensure that it is welcomed in a hospitable environment so that it can grow and work optimally.
Finally, a healthy soil hosts healthy vines that produce quality grapes!
It is not enough to look ahead, therefore, but we must also look where we put our feet: the soil is home to a quarter of our Planet’s biodiversity (fao.org/soils-2015) and our responsibility must be to restore the diversity of species on agricultural soils to optimal levels, reducing the disturbance of human activities.
Our company adopts management practices that not only improve soil quality, but also protect the environment, the biodiversity of the area and the quality of our grapes.
IT WOULD BE BEAUTIFUL TO PUT THE PICTURE ON PAGE 46 OF THE BUDGET WITH THE GRAPE AND MAYBE MAKE BOTTLES, one for multi-purpose sowing that links to the green manure page I have already written, one for bees, etc., as on page 47. And then add “Look at the image below and click on the buttons to find out more!”
BIOPASS PROJECT (Page 42-43 of the balance sheet)
Venica&Venica’s path of constant growth passes through interaction with different professional skills, and with SATA Studio Agronomico we have started a project of caring for our soils and vineyards.
BioPASS is in fact a project to safeguard and increase biodiversity in viticulture, with particular reference to the soil, understood in all its characteristics, but above all as the fulcrum of the production system in the aspects concerning its biological and structural fertility.
The monitoring and assessment of soil biodiversity are tools of exceptional importance for the sustainability of the entire wine-growing chain: they are essential for understanding the impact that our actions have on the life forms present in the vineyard ecosystem and in the spaces adjoining it.
The BioPASS project involves:
The assessment of the main indices of structural biodiversity (farm structure and distribution of areas that create biodiversity)
The analysis of the physical and structural state of the soil using the Visual Soil Analysis method (more hospitable soils guarantee better quality of life for plants and, consequently, the grapes they produce)
Soil microfauna analysis using the Biological Soil Quality method, which indicates the healthiness level of the soil environment. In particular, our QBS analysis showed scores from 133 to 197, when a value of 118 is considered normal for a vineyard.
Venica&Venica’s specific project includes the study of biodiversity and the physical and structural quality of the soil. The results obtained were particularly satisfying (high biodiversity and good physical quality of the soil), and based on them, improvement measures were drawn up, such as the grassing over of the sub-rows (portions of land that are right at the base of the plants) with multi-purpose sowing and contributions of organic substance from compost produced in-house.
At Venica’s, it is not uncommon to catch a glimpse, among the foliage of the dense forest around the farm building, of some roe deer approaching to browse and drink, especially at dusk in spring and autumn. Just as sometimes early in the morning, when the vineyards are still shrouded in the silence of the morning mist, one notices the footprints of wild boars that venture between the rows at night. Not to mention hares or foxes, which are frequently spotted crossing the winding country roads surrounding the farm.
The defence of the landscape and biodiversity are among the fundamental values of Venica&Venica, which has always preserved the wooded areas on the estate’s land since the planning of planting new vineyards, never significantly reducing their extension. Today, the company boasts 40 hectares under vine and the same number of hectares of woodland, with a view to safeguarding the surrounding environment by paying ever greater attention to preserving the integrity of the ecosystem that characterises the territory.
Biodiversity is defined as the richness of life forms in an environment; it enables life itself, since without the complex chain of interactions between living beings, no life would exist. (p. 38 of the report).
Every leaf that falls to the ground in the autumn only returns to life if it is progressively destroyed by bacteria, fungi, earthworms and higher animals, and thanks to them is broken down to a set of simple elements that are absorbed by the plant, to regenerate new leaves. (Page 39 of the balance sheet)
To safeguard the environment adjacent to the hectares planted with vines, the company manages the so-called ‘buffer strips’ on the edge of the vineyards. These are permanent vegetated areas consisting of more than 40 tree and shrub species (2017 census). The function of these strips is to protect the forest and water from contamination, to retain parts of the soil eroded by weather events, and to maintain biodiversity and the diversification of the landscape.
The management of ‘buffer strips’ is part of a broader project to conserve forests and vegetated areas, which aims to create habitats for the survival of numerous species of mammals, birds, insects, grasses and trees.
Walking through Venica’s vineyards in late spring or early summer, so precise and orderly that they resemble the sculptured hedges of an Italian garden, the vines seem to be in perfect harmony with the myriad wild flowers (dandelion, daisies, rape…) that grow between the rows.
This is no coincidence: the spontaneous grassing of the land is supplemented each year with sowing of mixtures of herbs defined as ‘multifunctional’, whose specific properties bring great benefits to both the subsoil and the topsoil. These mixtures are called “green manure”, are customised according to the characteristics and needs of the individual vineyard and contribute to the creation and maintenance of an ecosystem around the vine in perfect harmony with its surroundings.
SOWING GREEN MANURE IN THE VINEYARD
This operation, also known as ‘green manuring’, is carried out at the end of the harvest, before the autumn rains begin. After the winter ‘rest’, at the end of the last spring frost, the green manure is ready to blossom into a spectacle for the eyes. Walking through the vineyards of Venica is always evocative, but in spring, when the atmosphere is intoxicated by a thousand scents, the meadows are dotted with colours and the first buds appear on the vine shoots, it is like walking through an impressionist painting: it is a true sensory experience.
Our customised green manure seed mix, tailored to the needs of our vineyards, is made up of different types of plants, including: rye, mustard, vetch, clover, rape, rocket, horseradish… Some belong to the leguminous family and provide nitrogen to the soil, a source of nutrition for the vine. Others belong to the graminaceous family and, rich in fibre, favour the formation of organic matter and humus. Still others belong to the cruciferous family and combat the establishment of soil pests.
(from page 47 of the report) Other benefits for the subsoil are, for example, improved aeration and water permeability at depth as a result of the decomposition of the roots of these plants, which therefore contribute to making the soil softer. The same plant mass resulting from decomposition represents a valuable source of nutrients, which enriches both the fertility of the soil and its level of biodiversity (fungi, bacteria, insects and animal species find sustenance in this way). A soil with better agronomic characteristics (such as porosity, structure, space for water and air, presence of organic matter, etc.) is also a more hospitable soil for the presence of life forms, indicators of the healthiness of the soil itself (earthworms, mites, etc.).
However, green manure is also very beneficial for the topsoil: it considerably reduces erosion phenomena caused by the abundant rainfall in our region, reduces the susceptibility of vines to diseases and the consequent interventions in the vineyards, and contributes to the maintenance of biodiversity, since each plant is attractive to many species of insects with different roles in the ecology of the system.
With the help of multifunctional sowing in the vineyard, we are thus able to maintain a healthy ecosystem for the vine and a vital soil free of weeds. Our priority in fact is the preservation and enhancement of the natural resources we have.