Sicily’s longstanding commitment to sustainability shines through
Sustainability is fundamental to Sicily and to the island’s wine culture, with the region the biggest player in Italy for organic viticulture, both in terms of how much ground it covers and its quantity of production.
“Sustainability is not just a set of good practices and behaviours to be pursued, it is a true identifying trait for the entire island, and a byword for the Sicilian wine system,” says Giuseppe Bursi, vicepresident of Consorzio di Tutela Vini Sicilia DOC and board member of the SOStain foundation.
He continues: “Sicily was the first region to develop an integrated sustainability protocol capable of putting producers’ needs at the centre of the dialogue, while also maintaining a balance with the surrounding environment.
“This is why sustainability is so significant, since it becomes a real compass able to measure everyone’s impact on the ecosystem.”
There are 30,084 hectares of organic vineyards in Sicily; an area which is three times that of organic vineyards in Veneto, and double that of Tuscany. It makes Sicily the largest organic wine-growing area in Italy, equal to a 34% slice of the Italian organic surface.
Today, 22% of Sicilian producers bottle organic Sicilia DOC wine. The most recent data, as per 30 September 2021, indicates that the amount of Sicilian organic wine bottled corresponds to 12.9% of the total with 9,182,800 bottles. The numbers indicate just how much Sicily is committed to encouraging organic production and to develop its practices in accordance with sustainability.
“Sustainability is not just a set of good practices and behaviours to be pursued, it is a true identifying trait for the entire island and a byword for the Sicilian wine system”
Beyond viticulture, Sicily is also the leading region in Italy for the amount of land given over to organic production – at 385,356 hectares to be exact.
The consortium’s commitment to sustainability has always been significant. This led to the founding of SOStain Foundation, an organisation focused on promoting ethical and sustainable development in the Sicilian wine sector, facilitating the sharing of best practices to guarantee full respect for the ecosystem, and to define the needs for training and research at wineries.
The island itself has a complex and variegated terrain, with two long sides that protrude into the Tyrrhenian Sea to the north and to the Sicilian Channel to the south, and to the shorter side on the Ionian Sea to the east, making its wine unique. In addition, its territory is extremely hilly, with 24% mountainous land and only 14% flat .
Sicily is a true mix of diversified environmental characteristics, which inevitably find expression in the island’s excellent wine production.
As part of SOStain Foundation, promoted by Consorzio di Tutela Vini DOC Sicilia, Sicilian wineries are actively using a holistic programme that is not only limited to nurturing soil through good agricultural practices, but also takes into account social and economic sustainability. It is strongly based on wineries exchanging information with one another, as well as a continued dialogue between wineries and the scientific community.