Earlier this week I read an upsetting story about plastics in the ocean. By no means the first or the last that will cross my desk, this piece was particularly haunting and it occurred to me that aside from lessening plastic use in my own life, I would make it my goal to highlight wine producers that have their hands in the clay on this issue.
Italian Food, Wine and Travel
Simultaneous to this contemplation, I am in the midst of covering Italian island wines, Sicily in particular, as part of a this month’s Italian Wine, Food and Travel (#ItalianWFT) event. Sicily has a lot going on right now, wine-wise, so I have stumbled upon several totally compelling stories to share with readers.
When I got the opportunity to interview Priscilla Girelli, export assistant from Feudo di Santa Tresa, it became clear that this is exactly the sort of grower and winemaker that deserves our attention and you’ll see why in the interview below.
This week our #ItalianFWT writers will compose their stories and we’ll gather on Twitter at 10 am central on Saturday, April 9, 2019, to discuss Italian island wines (see topics at the end of this post). Meanwhile, everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy the inspiration of this interview and share it widely.
Feudo di Santa Tresa
Fuedo di Santa Tresa is located near Vittoria, in southern Sicily. The estate has roots dating back to the late 1960s, with a rich winemaking history and a dedication to ecology quantified by organic certification and a commitment to truly holistic farming.
Here, the Santa Tresa story is shared with a focus on ecology and sustainability:
Jill Barth: Please describe the sights, sounds and smells of your vineyard.
Priscilla Girelli: Watching the sunrise and sunset over our vineyards at Santa Tresa is a true spectacle, which I am never tired of. The ancient olive trees and bright citrus trees, rising behind the rows of vines makes a lovely scene. There are always birds singing and at dusk, the cicadas also start to sing. There is a strong aroma of herbs in the air and after it has rained, the aroma becomes intense, rustic, with a very distinctive spicy element to it – it’s a wonderful and memorable scent.
JB: Do animals have a function in and around the Santa Tresa vineyards?
PG: You can see the whole circle of life taking place in the vineyards, starting with the insects, to the birds, to the rabbits to the foxes. They are all there and all play their part in our vineyard environment. We introduced a very particular species of local bee some years ago in order to aid pollination. We are hosts to a hawk family and owls are quite regularly spotted flying over the vines.
JB: Can you speak about water management in Sicily and at Santa Tresa?
PG: We have done a lot of work in this regard – water management is key in the harsh Sicilian summer. We have invested in the maintenance of the ancient wells on the estate and have implemented an eco-friendly system of getting water from a local reservoir, which enables us to irrigate our vines in a very controlled manner when needed. This also means that we don’t over-use the wells on the estate, as to do so would be to risk impoverishing the water table. Most of our irrigation system is underground, saving around 70% of water compared to the usual over-ground drip irrigation.
JB: What makes the Santa Tresa packaging “green”?
PG: With our Purato brand, we have created wines which are “green to the extreme”, which includes the packaging. Every element of the packaging, from the glass, to the paper, to the cardboard, to the ink is carefully selected in order to make the least impact on the environment as possible. The Purato packaging shouts its values from the label: organic, carbon-neutral, vegan-friendly, recyclable.
JB: Plastics are a problem globally, how did Santa Tresa stop using them?
PG: While we cannot claim not to use plastics at all, we absolutely minimize their use and the key thing is ensuring that any plastic that has been used is recycled properly.
JB: Share details about what is growing between the vines and how that helps the ecosystem.
PG: We actually allow weeds to grow in between the rows of vines, creating unique biodiversity, attracting the right insects, and below ground, a unique micro-organism mix is formed. In addition, vines like competition, and benefit from competing with the weeds by the roots going deeper and deeper into the soil.
For fertilizer, we grow beans – “favino”, which we have found to be the best natural fertilizer for the vines. We find that the beans provide all the extra nutrients that we need for the vines to flourish and this is a method as close to nature as possible. Trees play an important part in creating the right environment for pollination. For centuries olive trees have been grown on the estate as well as orange, lemon and almond trees, giving just the right balance.
Island Wines of Italy with #ItalianFWT
As I mentioned, our Italian Food, Wine and Travel writing group has congregated around the topic of wines produced on Italy’s islands. You can find the invitation post here. Please join me and the following writers as we share the process of writing our stories, rich with details about the food, wine and trips that inspired us.
Steven from Steven’s Wine and Food Blog features Sicilian Pasta con le Sarde Wine Pairing #ItalianFWT
Linda from My Full Wine Glass offers From Sardegna to Sicilia by Sea – Two Pairings (#ItalianFWT)
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla recollects Island Memories, Slow-Roasted Lamb, and Cannonau Di Sardegna
Lynn from Savor The Harvest is in the mood for Italian Island Wine Speak with Vinisola
Cindy from Grape Experiences reveals Discovering Liquid Gold from Sardinia and Sicily at Chicago’s Coda di Volpe
Jennifer from VinoTravels tells the story of The Cultural Heritage of Mamuthone and Cannonau of Cantina Giuseppe Sedilesu
Susannah from Avvinare invites readers to Discover Aleatico from the island of Elba
Wendy from A Day In the Life on the Farm makes Oven Roasted Salmon with Tarragon Tartar Sauce paired with a Sicilian Grillo
Lauren from The Swirling Dervish shares Island Wines of Italy: Alghero Torbato from Sardegna
Gwen from Wine Predator features Island Wines of Italy: 4 from Sicily paired with pizza ItalianFWT
Jeff from FoodWineClick is Dreaming of Italian Islands While We Wait for Spring
Martin from ENOFYLZ Wine Blog tempts with Sardinian Vermentino di Gallura Paired With Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto
Nicole from Somm’s Table crafts A Passion for Sicily with Passopisciaro
Jane from Always Ravenous is Tasting and Pairing Sicilian Wine From Mount Etna
Here at L’Occasion we feature Speaking of Sicily, Italy’s Island Wines In Conversation