A Toast to the Bounty of Summer

This time of year, we’re especially inspired in the kitchen; our local markets are bursting with the season’s freshest fruits and vegetables, and it seems that nothing more than a light touch is needed to turn such exquisite raw materials into a healthy local feast.

This is the same philosophy that guides the winemaking principles of Barone Pizzini; an appreciation for the bounty of the land and a respect for the raw ingredients that has inspired the company to lead the way in organic production of Franciacorta, as well as biodynamic production of Pievalta in Le Marche.

Not surprising, then, that many of the restaurants around the country that include Barone Pizzini in their wine programs also espouse this dedication to local sourcing and appreciation for highlighting the flavors of each changing season. Great news for those of us who are committed to sustainable dining, but less inspired in the kitchen!

ABC Kitchen, New York City

The New York restaurant scene has embraced the “local” food trend in a big way – but ABC Kitchen takes this commitment to a new level. In addition to Chef Jean-Georges’ focus on organic seasonal produce, meat, fish and dairy are sourced locally and sustainably whenever possible; herbs and microgreens are grown on a rooftop garden; and beverages – from wine to coffee and tea – are organic and fair-trade. Even the dining room includes recycled or reclaimed materials – we’ll toast to that!

Coppa, Boston

coppa veg
Seasonal fare at Coppa, Boston

Not traditionally viewed as a foodie haven, Boston is making a name for itself as a culinary destination in its own right, thanks in part to a rising generation of outstanding chefs, including Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette of Coppa in Boston’s South End. Pair your Franciacorta with a seasonally updated menu of pizza, pasta, outstanding charcuterie and fresh produce sourced from “local friends.”

Market 17, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Proving that the country’s biggest cities do not have a monopoly on locavore dining, Chef Lauren Shields at Market 17 has made Fort Lauderdale a regional leader in sustainable dining. The native Floridian is convinced that consumer education is the key to encouraging more people to make responsible food choices. Owners Kirsta and Aaron Grauberger – a brother and sister team of sommeliers – are pleased to share their dedication to sourcing in an extensive beverage program, with plenty of biodynamic and organic options, including Barone Pizzini Rosé.  

Celebrate Biodiversity with Barone Pizzini

Vineyard mountainsThis weekend, June 25 and 26, lovers of Barone Pizzini can experience the biodiversity of the region with a “passeggiata” in the vineyard, led by a wild herb specialist and followed by a tasting of three organic Franciacorta wines in the cellar, constructed according to green building criteria.

As the first certified organic Franciacorta, Barone Pizzini is dedicated to keeping their lands free of the chemical pesticides and fertilizers that can damage the living flora and fauna that contribute to the richness of their vineyards and the surrounding region.

But you don’t have to travel to Lombardy; there are plenty of ways to discover biodiversity in your own backyard – urban or rural – wherever you are. Here are just a few ideas for your summer nature exploration – and where to enjoy a bottle of Barone Pizzini while you’re at it!

  1. The Pine Barrens, NJ

This sprawling stretch of forest in the center of the nation’s most densely populated state has the distinction of being the first National Reserve. Due to its uniquely diverse plant and animal life, it was designated an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations in 1988. Head to the Winslow Wildlife Management area for hiking trails, blueberry and huckleberry picking, and the “blue hole,” rumored to be one of the homes of the legendary Jersey Devil. Then calm your nerves with a bottle of Barone Pizzini Franciacorta from nearby Maro Brothers in Williamstown, NJ.

  1. Daniel Island, SC

This 4,000 acre island has long been a natural oasis within the city of Charleston, SC. Undeveloped until the 1990s, it is now home to a planned residential community, but still contains hundreds of acres of parks. Enjoy your fill of flower walks, biking, and fishing along the Wando River, and then stop by Sauer Grapes for a cold bottle of Barone Pizzini.

  1. Baltimore, MD

The Baltimore Bird Club offers a rich summer program for amateur ornithologists. Catch glimpses of flycatchers, American Kestrel, Wood Ducks and more among the gardens and wetlands of Patterson Park, a verdant space in the center of Baltimore. With or without that elusive rare sighting you’re hoping for, finish the day off right with a visit to the Wine Source for a bottle of Barone Pizzini.

Terroir Marche: a new group of organic growers in Jesi

best verdicchio jesi

Above: The village of Maiolati Spontini is home to the Pievalta winery (one of the houses in the Barone Pizzini group). Castelli di Jesi is rapidly becoming one of Italy’s epicenters for organic and biodynamic farming practices.

In May of this year — on May 1, to be precise, a date with great symbolic and historic significance for many Italians — the Pievalta winery became one of the founding estates of a new group of organic wine growers: Terroir Marche.

In its own words, the group’s mission is to “promote awareness of organic farming in the Marches [Le Marche], to defend the territory and its resources, and to share the culture and practices of a sustainable and humane economy.”

Pievalta is one of the self-financed group’s five founding estates and it shares its belief that “the farmer is the primary source of our daily nourishment and is a pillar among those who safeguard the environmental landscape, the true but neglected patrimony of Italy.”

The group held its first official event on June 24 (a presentation of the association and a tasting of its members wines) and we’ll be looking forward to future events (and will post them here on the Barone Pizzini blog).

San Pietro in Lamosa monastery: a historic monument & supporter of a chemical-free world

san pietro in lamosa franciacorta

Above: Last year, the ancient monastery of San Pietro in Lamosa in Franciacorta was the site of a conference devoted to the effects of pesticides on the health of residents in farming communities.

As winery manager Marta Piovani put it in an email to me yesterday, “the monastery of San Pietro in Lamosa is an ancient one and our winery is relatively young. But we have something in common: respect for the environment.”

In October 2012, the beautiful 11th-century monastery – which sits at the edge of a marsh in the same township where Barone Pizzini is located, Provaglio d’Iseo — hosted a conference devoted to the ill effects of pesticides in commercial farming.

The monastery’s support of this cause aligns with the winery’s mission: to improve the quality of wine and to protect the farming community to which it belongs by farming organically, without the use of chemicals.

Not only does Barone Pizzini farm organically, but its mission (and that of its sister winery, Pievalta, in the Marches) is also to promote awareness — through its wines and approach to viticulture — of the harm that chemicals can do to a farming community.

So if you’re heading to Franciacorta this weekend for wine tasting, please stop first at the monastery to explore one of the great monuments of Franciacorta and a wholehearted supported of a chemical-free farming community.

Wine writer Kyle Phillips wrote an excellent post on the monastery a few years ago for About.com.

Green manure (silly plowing) at Barone Pizzini

green manure franciacorta

A note from the Barone Pizzini agronomist Pierluigi Donna:

Barone Pizzini borrows certain techniques from biodynamics, like that of increasing the organic substance in the soil by planting legumes that thrive between the rows. The plants enrich the soil with natural nitrogen without the use of fertilizers.

Using this “green manure” practice, we till the plants under so that the biomass gets worked into the soil, thus making more suitable for useful organisms and for the roots’ exploration.

Increasing the organic substance in the soil also means reducing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere and thus mitigates the greenhouse effect and helps the environment.

Carbon Calculator results for 2010 and comparison

Last month, we announced Barone Pizzini’s participation in the Italian Wine Carbon Calculator program.

The following figures are the official results of the survey for 2009 and 2010.

carbon footprint winery italy

Click here for a copy of the report in Italian.

These comforting figures demonstrate that awareness of one’s our emissions allows us design a more virtuous process that helps winery in the short term and betters the environment in the long term.

Our commitment to the program has become a way of life for everybody who works at the winery. After the 1998 organic conversion of the estate, they were all accustomed to this type of challenge.

Total Capture (Metric Tonnes of CO2) from estate-owned vineyards
including the entire supply chain

2009: 817.185
2010: 820.305

Total Emissions (Tons of CO2)
reduced through application of solar energy and geothermics

2009: 435.205
2010: 433.202

Kilograms of CO2 Captured per Bottle Sold
increase of 14%

2009: -1.108
2010: -1.149

Water Consumed per Bottle Sold
(in liters/bottle)

2009: 10.13
2010: 8.104

net kW acquired

2009: 221,812
2010: 199,483

Total Energy Consumption
(in equivalent kg crude oil)

2009: 78,972
2010: 78,424

kW Employed per Bottle Sold

2009: 0.643
2010: 0.592

Diesel Consumption per Hectare
(limited to the winery)

2009: 321.610
2010: 300.992

Emissions in Tonnes of CO2 per Wine Product

2009: 17.41
2010: 15.19

Recovery in Tonnes of CO2 per Recycled Waste

2009: -5.47
2010: -6.77

A lighter bottle for the new vintage of Verdicchio

best bottle format wine

The 2012 Pievalta was bottled today at the winery in Castelli di Jesi using a new bottle format that weighs significantly less than one used for the last vintage.

The new bottle weighs only 460 grams, 90 grams less than the previous (which weighed 550 grams, a reduction of 17 percent).

The new format will help to reduce greenhouse gasses, particularly carbon dioxide, because it reduces the amount of energy needed to produce the bottle and it also reduces the energy needed to transport it.

It’s a small step but an important one for people like us, who have always made the environment and its well-being a priority in our daily work.