From up in the air, I gazed into the beautiful landscape. The sweeping and rolling vineyards of Trento were a sight like no other, particularly from thousands of feet up in the air.
I had come to the Northern part of Italy to learn more about the Ferrari sparkling wine brand and their impressive portfolio, but somehow, instead, here I was on a helicopter on an amazing ride.
While trying to be harmonious throughout this mind-blowing experience, I was simultaneously clutching my seat, and snapping as many photos as I could on my IPhone. I became increasingly agitated that the image on my phone’s screen was nothing like the exquisite life-changing vision that I was seeing with my own two eyes.
When I was back on solid footing, I explored the mountainous vineyard in Italy’s Alto-Adige region, now under the stewardship of the third generation of the Lunelli family. I was taken on a breathtaking, and rather strenuous hike up the countryside by Matteo Lunellii, CEO of the Ferrari brand. Completely awestruck by the never-ending rows of grapes vertically soaring upwards into the sky, I found myself intently listening to Matteo explain the story of his family’s venture into sustainable agriculture.
Matteo spoke with conviction; something that you don’t see every day. He explained passionately that the future of his family’s brand hinges on their efforts to become a sustainable organization—not selling more bottles of sparkling wine or entering a plethora of new markets—but by being ethically sound. The family is taking steps to create these changes, by starting the production of Ferrari Tentodoc achieve organic certification this year.
As I was listening to Matteo speak about their efforts, I found myself wondering: What’s in it for them? Why does a well-recognized, highly sought-after, world-renowned brand have to go to such great lengths to become sustainable?
The answer really lies in the integrity of the family and the commitment from all of the siblings and cousins to not only do right by the business’ bottom line, but to also do right by their consumers. The family, who purchased the original business from Giulio Ferrari who had no heirs, understood implicitly what it meant to be stewards of their land.
“Our vineyards have organic certification no herbicides, pesticides, sustainable treatments using natural methods,” said Matteo Lunelli. To that end, the family practices what they preach by focusing on succinct core points to ensure their land is sustainable including: natural soil fertility, environmental protection, biodiversity and healthy working conditions for all of their employees.
If the family was going to commit to a certain way of life, they were going to be all in, and that meant making sure the 500-plus farmers that they work with would also adopt these techniques to become biodiversity friendly. Head winemaker, Marcello Lunelli, lives and breathes this way of life not only for himself, but for the Lunelli family at large. “Sustainability is much more than a production process: it’s a lifestyle, a way of rewarding the mountains of Trentino that have given so much to the company over the last century,” he began. “This long process towards the organic certification also made us rediscover the great value of biodiversity, achieved through virtuous agricultural practice; not only more natural vineyards, but also a great benefit for the whole territory and the people who work there. We gave our farmers a new and important motivation: to became guardians of their own land."
The sustainable initiative has been well underway for many years, beginning with a partnership with Fondazione Edmund Mach, which had the vineyards certified by CSQA, one of the strictest food quality certification schemes in Italy. The family worked at it and then sorted through research about organic farming, profitability and how it fits into an overall business perspective. For the Lunellis, they decided to go down the biodiverse and sustainable route, and today consider themselves biodiversity-friendly.
The process of becoming biodiversity-friendly is less than glamorous, but subtly romantic in its own right. There are rigorous standards to be met, including methods that entail the complete ban of chemical herbicides, fertilizers, mite killers and pesticides. It goes another step further by also reintroducing ancient agronomic practices, coupled with the use of green manure to keep their land pure.
Alessandro Lunelli, Owner and Business Manager for the Tenute Lunelli, staunchly believes that the Lunelli family does not own the land on which they harvest the grapes, bee keep or practice sustainable agriculture. Rather, they are merely stewards and will return the land to future generations. “We are giving this land to our kids. We need to preserve it and make it right,” he explained.
In his mind, that all starts with healthy vines first and foremost. Of course weather can be wild and unpredictable, but if the landowners focus on having healthy vines, they can survive and thrive even in the toughest of conditions. “Even if the vines are stressed, they will find the nutrients they need,” he added.