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Cavit reaps rewards of vineyard innovation

One of Italy’s largest wine producers has won a prize from the country’s main business innovation platform for a new vineyard mapping tool that is already having a major impact on quality, productivity and sustainability.

Trentino co-operative Cavit started developing its PICA (Piattaforma Integrata Cartografica Agriviticola) tool back in 2010 and spent the next decade refining and expanding the scope of this system in collaboration with the local San Michele Agricultural Institute and Bruno Kessler Foundation research institute. The result was hailed by business innovation organisation Smau as “the first technological platform of this type developed in Italy” as it awarded PICA its Innovation Prize 2021 at an event in Milan last month.

PICA allows Cavit to collect soil and climate data across the 6,350 hectares of vineyard farmed by its 5,250 grape growers, who together account for 60% of the entire Trentino grape growing area. The tool is particularly valuable in this mountainous province, where the geology – Cavit has identified 174 soil types – climate, altitude and exposition of many small vineyards can vary considerably.

Although the software allows for highly complex analysis of large amounts of data from across the Cavit members’ vineyards, crucially the system has been designed to be simple for users. Growers can upload data and photographs direct from the vineyard via the app, which will also send alerts about anything from an imminent hail storm to reminders about treatments. 92% of Cavit growers have now signed up to PICA and the tool is also used by the company’s team of agronomists.

Highlighting the improvements PICA has already made possible, Andrea Nicolini, Cavit export director for Europe & Asia, commented: “Most of the Cavit member vineyards have been mapped, allowing us to identify – and in cases replant – the most suitable variety of grape for every soil and every vineyard.”

Nicolini also emphasised the value of increased efficiency, both commercial and environmental. “PICA enables us to manage every vineyard without wasting resources,” he explained. “For example, by combining soil characteristics with weather forecasts, vineyard irrigation can be more efficiently planned, calculating the real needs of the plant without wasting water.”

While the impact of PICA gives Cavit a valuable competitive edge for its portfolio of large volume brands, the company has also deployed this software to support a growing range of high-end wines. One of these, Brusafer Pinot Nero Trentino Superiore 2018, won a Gold medal in The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2021.

“Without PICA, there could be no Rulendis and no Brusafer – our top Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir wines,” remarked Nicolini. “PICA helped identify the best high-altitude vineyards in non-classic areas, considered extreme for these varietals, for growing premium Pinot Grigio and Pinot Nero grapes with enhanced varietal characteristics.”

For all the benefits of PICA already in evidence, Cavit’s oenologist Andrea Faustini – now known as “Papa PICA” thanks to his work as the driving force behind this project – has additional ambitions for this tool. “We are currently working on forecasting models to manage resources and monitor harmful pests,” he explained.

Nor is it only Cavit that is able to raise its game as a result of this initiative. Faustini confirmed: “We have made PICA an open-source technological platform to benefit other wineries at national level and currently around 20 other wineries are using the programme to map their territory.” Thanks to companies like Cavit, Italy is one of the world’s largest wine producers and exporters; thanks to tools such as PICA, both company and country look set to maintain that dominance.

The following Cavit wines won medals in The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2021. See below for tasting notes on the wines by Patrick Schmitt MW.

Bottega Vinai Pinot Nero DOC Trentino, 2018

  • Medal: Silver (The Glolal Pinot Noir Masters)
  • Approx RRP (UK): £12-14

A very pale red with notes of sweet cherry, redcurrant, orange zest and a touch of dried flowers and vanilla on the nose. In the mouth, there’s toast and red berry fruit, a hint of fresh hay, and then cherry stone and plum on the finish, along with fine, dry mouth-coasting tannins. It’s a delicate, light style of Pinot with plenty of flavour.

Brusafer Pinot Nero DOC Trentino Superiore, 2018

  • Medal: Gold (The Glolal Pinot Noir Masters)
  • Approx RRP (UK): £15-20

An impressive, top-of-the-range Trentino Pinot, with a pale appearance and inviting aromatics of creamy vanilla, strawberry, redcurrant and dried flowers. The palate is light in body, but rich in flavour, with layers of fruit, from cherry to cranberry, along with notes of toast and vanilla, dried rose petals and hay, then orange zest, and some lingering dry tannins, giving it a mouth-watering finish.

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