Sustainability in Torgiano and Montefalco
An ancient proverb recites that “the land is a loan we must give back to our children” and in our family we are deeply convinced of this adage. We must safeguard the land and everything that allows it to bear fruit which, to a great extent, depends on respecting the environment. For us sustainability means not only protecting the environment but also using energy wisely, as well as continuously experimenting and applying new techniques and solutions to swiftly adapt to a changing climate.
Lungarotti has been practicing sustainable viticulture for many years. Our choices are guided by the desire to obtain the best possible grape quality while respecting the vine as well as biodiversity of the soil and the vineyard environment. To this end, we have undertaken various projects both in the vineyards and the cellars.
IN THE COUNRTYSIDE
- Climate analysis: it was the mid-1990’s when Giorgio Lungarotti adhered to the agricultural-environmental measures established by the European Community by installing meteorological stations – now 5 in Torgiano and 1 in Montefalco – to monitor climate data (air and soil temperature and humidity, wind direction and velocity, rainfall, sunlight, leaf wetness) that are fundamental for reducing vineyard treatments to control plant diseases such as oidium or grape downy mildew. The data are transmitted in real time to headquarters and only when certain conditions are met do we intervene with products having low environmental impact, in a precise and timely manner, without waste.
- Sprayers with recovery system: a number of years ago we introduced the use of vineyard spraying machinery that eliminates the problems associated with drifting, i.e. dispersion of the treatment products in the air when there is wind. The machinery consists of the “tank” containing the treatment product mixed with water which must be sprayed uniformly on the leaves, flanked by two pairs of shields that are parallel to the vine’s vegetative wall. The sprayed product which does not hit the leaves is recovered by pumps on the shield that is opposite the sprayer side. This system ensures minimal drift of the product into the environment and maximizes the recovery of the product that does not hit the target. The use of this machinery significantly reduces environmental impact because it allows us to use only the amount of plant protection product needed by the vegetation, thereby avoiding useless waste of products and water.
- MeteoWine Project: “Meteowine” is one of the research projects in the vineyards and winery which, carried out together with the Ciriaf department of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Perugia, has helped us reduce the impact of treatment products while improving environmental performance of our production process. Since climate is strongly influenced by oreography, it is very important to have meteorological models available that adequately address the influence that oreography can have in each territory. Unfortunately, in Umbria there was not a weather forecasting service in place for farmers, contrary to other regions of Italy. Thus in 2013 the idea for the project was developed and today, after more than 6 years, it has resulted in the activation of a Regional Meteorological Platform which processes data collected all over the region and builds models with reliable forecasts 3-4 days in advance that are precise and punctual. Here at the winery we can finally analyze the forecasts with respect to the treatments required. The online data is readily available to our technicians; compared to our previous procedures, the completion of this project has allowed us to organize our interventions and act preventively as opposed to retroactively with respect to the weather, thereby avoiding any possible and useless waste of treatment products, employee labour and fuel for the tractors.
- Management of water resources:we have inserted sensors in the soil at different depths in order to determine both soil-water potential and the vine’s possible water requirements, to avoid stress due to lack of water. This way we can proceed with irrigation of our white varieties only when necessary for the plant, avoiding unnecessarily wasting water. Until about 10 years ago this evaluation was made by analyzing leaf stalks during the hottest hours of the day in July.
- Soil management: in the different seasons of the year we alternate soil tilling with sod seeding to optimize water resources and avoid phenomena of erosion or compaction. Some examples: in the hottest and driest period of the year we till very finely to reduce evaporation from the soil as much as possible and maintain the humidity which is essential for vine growth; in October, after the harvest, we till the soil so it can more effectively reconstitute its water resources with the fall-winter precipitation; sod seeding in alternating vineyard rows favour the soil’s bearing capacity when tractors pass through, especially after rainfall, as well as limiting compaction which damages the roots of the vines; the olive groves are always left with sod seeding because olive trees are more resistant to dryness than vines; proper soil management is able to maintain the soil flora alive and active.
- Mechanical weed control: in spring-summer weeds in the vineyards are eliminated by lightly tilling the soil; this allows the vine roots to grow deeper into the soil for water and nutritive substances; this makes the plants more resistant in case of drought conditions. Eliminating weeds also keeps the environment more aerated and avoids stagnating humidity around the bunches and the basal leaves, thereby limiting fungal attacks.
- Fertilizing while respecting soil biodiversity:living organisms, with their constant activity, favour the biodiversity of the different soils. To this end we dedicate particular attention when fertilizing our vineyards.
- Organic fertilizer:we use mature cow manure, distributed in fall and winter to supply organic substances to the soil while respecting and improving its structure. In the clayey soils this avoids compacting the earth, while in sandy soils it provides improved water retention.
- Green manure: along with organic fertilizer based on manure or organic fertilizing products, our company has also adopted this ancient technique based on the capacity of leguminous crops to fix nitrogen. In the fall we sow either broad beans or a mix of leguminous plants in alternating rows; in the spring they grow and when they reach the height of the lowest wire they are cut and buried, thereby releasing their fixed nitrogen into the soil. In addition to its fertilizing function, these cover crops also help in controlling weeds.
- Precision viticulture: a number of areas of our vineyards have been mapped from above with drones allowing us to create vigour maps; these maps are interfaced with GPS-satellite-guided GPS-equipped tractors and facilitate us in intervening precisely by either increasing or decreasing fertilization or regulating the aperture of sprayers in the case of treatments. In this way we are able to supply the plant with whatever is strictly necessary for it.
- Maintenance of natural wooded areasamong the vineyards for wildlife repopulation: a large portion of our Torgiano Estate is part of a reserve for repopulating wild animals; often when walking along the Fattoria del Pometo road flanked by umbrella pines one can encounter pheasants with their beautiful plumage and lightning-swift wild hares.
- Maintenance of irrigation canals and unpaved roads for water regulation.
- Organic production in Montefalco: in 2010 we began cultivating organically at the Montefalco Estate. Starting with the 2014 harvest our wines have been certified “organic”. The organic regime prescribes using natural fertilizers, green manure and treatments based on copper and sulphur. In the cellars we have further reduced the use of sulphites and intensified the use of organic yeasts.
Also in the cellars we have made choices to support sustainable production:
Sustainable packaging: in February 2021 for our Rubesco and Torre di Giano we introduced new lighter bottles which can result in reduced CO2 emissions by up to 35%. This choice had already been implemented for the majority of wines in the Lungarotti line. The new lighter bottles represent a decrease from the previous weight of 650gr (23 oz.) to 420gr (14.8 oz.)
Sustainability has not only guided the Company in its glass choice but also in its closures: alongside the natural cork closures used for our reds, the majority of our young white and medium-bodied whites now have the Nomacorc closure, produced with sustainable and renewable raw materials derived from sugar cane; upon the request of many export markets we have adopted the screw cap which is unfortunately not yet very common in Italy for fine wines.
Photovoltaic panels: in July 2018 we installed 1,320 sq.m. (14,200 sq ft) of photovoltaic panels on the winery roofs which produce about 40% of our total energy requirements. This has allowed to reach a savings of more than 3,000 tons of CO2.
Recovery of refrigeration water: the cold water used to control fermentation temperature is recovered and circulated through a closed circuit back to the heat exchanger to be refrigerated again.
Small daily gestures: in line with our principles, we try to recover all materials that would otherwise be disposed of, such as paper, glass, used corks, to re-use them or recycle separately; in the cellars we use timers on the light switches for energy saving.
Compensation of CO2: together with other wineries that are members of the Institute of Fine Italian Wines –Premium Brands (IGM), we develop projects to compensate our CO2 emissions.
Use of energy-saving equipment: when investing in new equipment we carefully evaluate the energy consumption and choose energy-saving products.
The “V.I.V.A.” project
The V.I.V.A. project (Evaluation of Viticulture’s Impact on the Environment) was initiated by the Ministry of the Environment specifically for the wine sector; it gives companies the instruments to diagnose the impact of their product and at the same time is a guarantee and an affirmation of transparency for consumers.
Its goal is to set a standard for sustainable management of the viticultural and winemaking sector that is both measurable and accredited: a standard reference for Italian products and a prestigious promotional tool for «made in Italy» on international markets.
In 2018 we were granted V.I.V.A certification for a correct performance in sustainably managing all 4 of the indicators present in the specifications (air (Carbon Footprint), water (Water Footprint), vineyard and territory) following a series of assessments initiated about 2 years earlier. Lungarotti is the ninth Italian organization to obtain VIVA certification and the first in Umbria.
“The Green Heart Quality” mark
Green Heart Quality is the certification (brand) for environmental sustainability from the Region of Umbria. The region, also known as the Green Heart of Italy, is the first in Italy to have instituted an environmental brand for certifying and recognizing entities that follow a green philosophy.
The Green Heart Quality brand identifies not only companies and products but also services, institutions and environmentally sustainable events. The brand promotes and acknowledges «environmental excellence