20% of Italy’s vineyards declared obsolete

21st July, 2014 by Patrick Schmitt

As much as one fifth of Italy’s vineyards are “obsolete” according to Marchese Piero Antinori, president of one of the country’s biggest and best-known wine producers, Marchesi Antinori.

marchesepieroantinori

Marchese Piero Antinori

During a talk at May’s IMW symposium in Florence, Piero gave a brief history of his experience of the Italian wine industry, identifying three distinct periods over the past sixty years, before stating the weaknesses and opportunities in the country today.

“We are now at the beginning of new challenges, with new goals, ambitions and visions, and there are many things we can do in Italy to further improve the situation,” he said during the MW seminar, which was entitled The Italian achievement: the renewal of a classical wine culture.

He then stressed, “One is the fact that in Italy we still have approximately 20% of our surface area of our vineyard that is obsolete, not efficient and not orientated to the market.”

Continuing, he pointed out, “We need to remove this part of the vineyard in Italy and transform it to a more efficient, high-quality and market-orientated wine.”

To accelerate such a process, he suggested that Italy “take advantage of EU subsidies to help people make this kind of investment”.

Speaking about Italy’s stages of development, he mentioned “pre-revolution, revolution and post-revolution periods” during his own lifetime in the wine industry, pointing out that the country had seen “incredible change in a relatively short period of time”.

Turning to conditions today, he said that better technology was helping Italy realise its potential, and commented that the country should concentrate on “communicating the value and personality of our own native grape varieties”.

In terms of wine regions, he said that certain parts of the country had not “sufficiently communicated their potential”, before picking out Puglia as an example.

“One region in my opinion is Puglia, which has great native grapes such as Primitivo, Negro Amaro, Aglianico, Bombino, Fiano… and there is the beauty of the landscape, the food is fantastic, and so are the cities, churches and art,” he said.

“Something in Puglia should be done like it has been done in Sicily,” he then proposed, suggesting Puglia should look at the approach taken in Sicily, where producer associations have formed to promote the island and its sub-regions.

Finally, considering the Italian wine business more generally, he said, “There really are many challenges and many great opportunities to further improve the situation in Italy… I’m quite optimistic.”

3 Responses to “20% of Italy’s vineyards declared obsolete”

  1. Liam Young says:

    Seems like a ‘jump the shark moment for Antinori. I suppose it’s easy to declare 100% of your competition’s vineyards and production as 20% of Italy that’s obsolete, but just because they aren’t focused on ‘commercial’ production, does that mean they’re not interested in making money or creating quality wines?
    Unfortunately, someone should have checked Antinori’s press release before he made this statement, as there are probably thousands of Italian wine makers who would disagree.

  2. Kevin says:

    Have to agree with above comment, just because a region isn’t producing commercial wines ‘market orientated’ isn’t a bad thing.

  3. The Saint says:

    I know Piero Antinori and have had discussions with him about why he used to recommend the planting of French grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet. I am glad he is changing his tune because as we all know there is plenty of that planted all over the world. Italy has some of the finest and most unique grapes in the world and should promote those. The other thing I hate to see is the grubbing up of many of the old vines around the world just to make room for the what’s “hot now” new varieties. Old vines are like old people, they can contain much wisdom and unique qualities and can create wonderful wines. It is unfortunate that the wine business is so much about money and not so much about quality.

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