Monte Zovo Winery On The Value Of A Biodiversity Manifesto

Food & Drink

Azienda Agricola Monte Zovo encompasses 140 hectares in northern Italy, with land situated near the foothills of the Alps in the Veneto and the growing region around Lake Garda (Italy’s largest lake).

On a hilltop location with a view of the lands of Lake Garda on the west and Valpolicella on the east, Monte Zovo winery produces iconic wines such as Chiaretto, Bardolino and Amarone.

The full property is in conversion to organic agriculture and the facilities are entirely energy self-sufficient. The winery’s light weight glass initiative uses 30% less glass, reducing raw material use by approximately 17,000 tons and results in a retrained carbon footprint.

One of the most interesting sustainability achievements at Monte Zovo stems from a movement born in 2010, when the United Nations declared the International Year of Biodiversity.

Channeling this momentum, the World Biodiversity Association proposed an agricultural certification called Biodiversity Friend, ensuring holders of the title were engaged in a commitment to the conservation and increase of biological diversity, from the microorganism level up to the sweeping scale of entire ecosystems. The human community, particularly in a farm or vineyard setting, takes part in the balance.

In the spring season of 2013, Monte Zovo was the inaugural winery to gain the certification. Currently there are over a dozen wineries involved, proving the leadership of Monte Zovo was illuminating to the industry. As 2020 represents the end of a decade of this worldwide collaboration, farms such as Monte Zovo provide insight as ideas shift to practices.

The certification is based on several key areas. Mainly: conservation of soil fertility; appropriate water management; environmentally friendly weed and pest control; increase of hedgerows, wooded areas and nectar species and the use of multi-year rotations.

Each function is tied to a score, quantifying the efforts of the farm with a minimum accumulation of 60 out of 100. In order to retain the certification, the score must be increased annually until the farm arrives at a grade of 80 out of 100, at which point the audit turns to a biannual schedule. A certifying committee includes layers of stakeholders, from farmers to consumers, and independent auditing is required.

To codify these functions, the Monte Zovo team has structured a manifesto, Cottini Decalogue, which is named after the founding family of the winery. According to Diego Cottini, owner of Monte Zovo, the manifesto pertains to the transmission of these values to future generations in the “local, national and international realities” that influence (and are influenced by) the winemaking and agricultural functions at Monte Zovo.

“Care, Consciousness, Constance and Concreteness,” says Cottini. “The four letter Cs that represent our way of taking care of the land, vineyards, environment and the places we live and work everyday.” With those guides as leading motivators, ten touch points are concerned: the importance of family, the identity of territory, excellence, research and innovation, concreteness, care, awareness/consciousness, environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, social sustainability and code of ethics.

“In our vineyards live many types of insects—ladybugs, mantids, butterflies, bees, wild Hymenoptera (known as solitary bees)—and wild animals—pheasant, partridge, wild boar, badgers and many types of birds,” says Cottini of the neighbors that thrive on his land.

The vitality of many creatures motivates a biodiversity pact, the primary element that sets the certification apart from other stamps of quality. Programs such as High Environmental Value (HEV) in France, and the worldwide biodynamic scheme certified by Demeter, address biodiversity as a meaningful aspect of farming, but Biodiversity Friend is firmly grounded on the concept and responsibilities associated with it.

“Our way of doing business aims to be a model of sustainability, able to influence other companies through the quality of our products and an economic productive model which respects the environment and local community,” says Cottini. As 2020 unfolds, Monte Zovo remains positioned to be a leader in biodiversity on the Italian vineyard and around the world.

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