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Donnafugata adopts ‘world first’ ocean-friendly cork

Sicily’s Donnafugata has become the first wine producer to adopt an innovative new cork made using plastic salvaged from coastal areas, as CEO José Rallo revealed to db at Vinitaly.

Sealing the brand’s 2022 Damarino Sicilia DOC Bianco (a blend of Ansonica, Catarratto and other indigenous varieties, coming to the UK market soon), is Nomacorc Ocean.

Developed by closure manufacturer Vinventions, this eco-conscious cork is made from recycled ocean bound plastic, that is to say plastic littering beaches and rivers, in Southeast Asia in this case, that would otherwise eventually pollute the ocean.

Notably, the label alerting consumers to the cork’s eco-credentials is on the front of the Damarino bottle, just beneath the eye-catching design of the main label.

“Consumers are increasingly aware of pollution in the sea,” said Rallo, pointing news coverage and television programmes depicting the destruction of marine habitats. It was also suggested that Sicily’s island status makes Donnafugata acutely conscious of the importance of the oceans.

Rallo pointed out that an ocean-friendly cork suited the turquoise blue label of Damarino, but said that the plan was to use it for other wines in the future. Using Nomacorc Ocean for Damarino has already made a sizeable difference in the form of the recycling of 1.15 tonnes of ocean bound plastic.

Rallo with Damarino.

The wine is also certified with SOStain, the programme for sustainable Sicilian viticulture. Though the energy consumption for producing the wine and bottle weight are well below the threshold for SOStain status, Rallo said that there are plans to make further improvements: “Little by little, we can make it stricter.”

But, though Donnafugata’s eco-drive is notable, when it comes to the effects of climate change, the island is bucking the global trend: “20 years ago, my mother [Gabriella Anca Rallo], who was in charge of the vineyards, noted a serious problem with drought, but now the world is upside down: Sicily has rain, and we have a clear autumn and spring.”

Sicilians always do things slightly differently to the rest of the world.

Further reading: Passito di Pantelleria DOC explained

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