Safeguarding the “Sicily Vineyard“, producing Sicilian vines with certification attesting to their sanitary integrity and varietal identity, and giving value and support to the quality of Sicilian wines are the objectives of the project with the title of “Enhancement of Grape Germplasm” – promoted and supported by the Consortium for the Protection of Sicily DOC Wines in partnership with the Regional Department of Agriculture of the Region of Sicily, the University of Palermo and the “F. Paulsen” Regional Center for the Conservation of Viticultural and Agricultural Biodiversity.
Updates relating to the current project were presented during an event at Vinitaly, in the Meeting Hall of the Region of Sicily Pavilion, with the title of “The Identity of the Sicilian Vineyard – The Paulsen Nursery and the Enhancement of the Sicilian Frape Germplasm”: after greetings by the President of the Sicily DOC Consortium, Antonio Rallo, speakers included the Area II Programming Director of the Regional Agriculture Department, Vincenzo Pernice, the President of the Italian Academy of Vine and Wine, Rosario Di Lorenzo, and the Agronomic Consultant for the Project, Lorenza Scianna.
“The results of the work of the scientific community of the University of Palermo, together with the Regional Department and the Consortium for the Protection of Sicily DOC, are extraordinary – said the Councilor for Agriculture, Rural Development and Mediterranean Fishing Luca Sammartino. It is a heritage that today focuses on the family tree of Sicilian wines and establishes a register that all Sicilian winemakers can use to enhance the biodiversity of the productions of our territories and reconvert some areas of the Region into areas for production. We are just days away from the next Vinitaly where the Sicilian Region will try to promote its brand and position itself higher and higher within the markets, despite the contraction suffered by Italian exports. We will succeed in building new opportunities, along with the scientific community and the partnership of the public and private sectors”.
The project aims at preserving the biodiversity generated by the 3,000 years of viticulture on the island as well as its native varieties and to intervene upstream in the wine-growing supply chain, providing nurserymen with basic materials from which to obtain a certified product to be supplied to wineries. By working with vines whose varietal identity and health integrity are certain, it is possible to give value and support to the quality of Sicilian wines. Thanks to the project, the phytopathological verification of the existing initial plant fields is underway as is the reconstitution of new fields with virus-free materials, from which to obtain the propagation material for the production of grafted and certified vine cuttings.
“Among our priority commitments is to dedicate ourselves to the conservation of biodiversity generated by the 3,000 years of viticulture on the island; – emphasizes the president of the Consortium of Sicily DOC Wines, Antonio Rallo – The task of the Consortium is also to protect the vines that can best represent the ampelographic wealth of the island. The project in support of the “Vigneto Sicily Vineyard” therefore becomes central for us in the development of Sicilian enology in order to combine tradition and high quality in an ever-changing scenario”.
In the first year of the project, three vine cuttings were established with initial material supplied by the Paulsen Nursery previously subjected to laboratory tests to ascertain the varietal purity and the absence of virosis. The vine cuttings so produced were used in the second year of the project to establish two fields of initial category mother plants located in the Petrosino countryside. Buds are taken from these fields to be supplied to the nurserymen for the production of certified material.
At the moment the fields host 10 clones of Sicilian varieties approved by the Region of Sicily, namely, Perricone, Alicante, Nerello Cappuccio, Nero D’Avola, Carricante, Greganico, Grillo, Zibibbo, Catarratto, Moscato bianco), but in 2023 the groundwork has been laid to begin the cloning process of other biotypes whose agronomic and enological profile is to be traced, as well as “minor” varieties such as Minnella Nera, Nerello Cappuccio, Nocera, Alicante and “relic” varieties, namely Vitrarolo, Recunu, Orisi, Lucignola). Sicilian companies will therefore soon have the opportunity to purchase certified material of native varieties from local nurserymen.