Let me make an introductory remark about our estate.
We are a small, family-run winery with about six hectares under vine. We regard our estate as a garden and follow every tiny change with unswerving attention. We have been making wine for five generations. Skilled hands tend our vines in full respect of the environment and its small fauna. And what can we say about Prepotto? It’s a beautiful spot on the border of Slovenia and the Collio where well-ventilated site climates and moderate but coolish temperatures ensure the spicy typicality of our native wines.
I have simplified our estate philosophy a little by summing it up in a series of steps. These small but essential points underline our diversity and the way we make our products, from vineyard to finished wine.
It all starts among the rows. We have always believed in making wine the old-school way, respecting the traditions of the past so as to preserve typicality and honour the many sacrifices our ancestors made on our behalf. First of all, management of green spaces is entirely manual. Weeds are pulled out and no chemical herbicides or desiccants are used, even though these products undoubtedly simplify operations. They are, however, devastating in their impact on small fauna since they pollute aquifers and some of their active substances are absorbed by the plants. We have never approved the use of chemical herbicides and neither do we employ any chemical fertilisers. Analyses carried out at Prepotto, or rather in part of our zone, show that the soil has a high nutrient content and is notably humus-rich. In order to compensate for plant nutrient uptake, we carry out inter-row and under-vine shredding to offset absorption by the vines. But there is more besides. We also focus on vine quality, monitoring bunch loads per vine after reducing yields by as much as half, from 120 q/ha to 40-50 q/ha. We never force the productivity of our vines, which means they are able to adjust to dry or wet periods, and also to drought conditions. We have always employed eco-friendly farming methods. We act in full respect of the ecosystem treating downy mildew and powdery mildew, the vine’s main pathogens, only with copper and sulphur. Moreover, we are also getting ready to use new plant protection products based on seaweed instead of chemicals. Obviously, this will make vineyard management challenging but we intend to give it a go! We dissolve co-formulates and active ingredients for treatments in about one third less water to obtain the same concentration with significantly less volume. Our aim is to avoid spillage and waste of active ingredients and achieve substantially lower consumption. Significantly lighter containers mean less fuel is needed during vineyard treatments and road transport. As proof of the healthfulness and eco-friendliness of our approach to estate management, we can point to the presence in our plots of small birds that choose our vines as their nesting site. We tend the vines and thin the canopy regularly, often spotting eggs or newly opened shells, a wonderful testimony to the estate’s respect for nature and proof of its eco-sustainability. But canopies aside, there is more proof of eco-friendly farming in the soil. When we are digging planting holes for rooted cuttings, we see earthworms, beetles and cockchafer grubs wriggling around in the sliced earth.
We work sparingly, in full respect of nature wherever possible. Traceability is a given on our estate. Not a grape goes into the cellar that was not grown on our plots and picked in our cases. The harvest is entirely manual as skilled pickers collect the fruit and we monitor it every step of the way to the cellar. Our pickers are carefully instructed in our quality requirements and the difference is obvious, not just in the glass. Grapes undergo no chemical treatment in the fermentation cellar where we always use only the pure natural yeasts present on the skin of the grape. We are also careful not to use our pumps more than necessary so much of the racking is by gravity flow to save energy. The cellar is where our wines are born and we divide it into two zones, one for vinification and the other for maturation. Our efforts to respect the environment are obvious here, too, since we use eco-sustainable detergents that are up to 90% biodegradable, such as soda, and enzyme treatments for faster disposal. Waste water from cleaning and disinfecting is not discarded. Instead it is regenerated and reused, saving up to 20% on water consumption each year. Our fermentation containers and maturation barrels, small and mid-sized, are washed with hot water to prolong the useful life of the wood. We have also opted to use slimmer staves than normal to reduce consumption of wood. We are also seeking to recycle our staves in artwork and seating. There is a company that makes acacia wood parquet from large ovals, a great idea that is gaining popularity.
The last stage is bottling and the wine is finished. When vinification - without chemicals - is complete and we have produced an extremely natural wine, it is time for the product to go into bottle. Our materials are selected and sized to our needs to avoid waste. For example, we use a bottle with an internal neck diameter of 15.5 mm instead of the classic 17.5 mm. It weighs less than 550 grams. The figures might seem insignificant but the two millimetre cut in neck diameter impacts stopper size. We have chosen 25x44 mm stoppers, which are shorter and narrower than standard corks but display almost identical gas exchange properties. Stoppers are a crucial area since, along with near-sterile glass, they are the only foreign material that comes into contact with the wine. Clearly, the wrong stopper or a cut-price option would be a poor choice. The closure has to be top quality so we have selected naturally farmed corks with no bleaching or peroxide agents. Our fire-branded natural stoppers are perfect for our winemaking philosophy. We have opted for a short bottling line to obviate any significant contamination of the wine. This means we are independent and do not need to waste hours of energy consumption, or keep diesel generators on for hours if not days during bottling periods. Once in bottle, our wine contains only its basic material, in other words the grape. We make wine conservatively, adding virtually nothing and maintaining its purity and naturalness. Chemistry has no place at Antico Broilo. All our procedures respect the consumer and very little use is made of sulphur dioxide. We deliver distinctive wines whose typicality faithfully reflects the territory. There are no acids, sulphites or stabilisers in our wine, only grapes picked by skilled hands and matured in small oak, where the wine remains in contact with the lees. No extreme filtration. Just simple bottling. Our striving for eco-sustainability continues in the search for alternative packaging. The colour scheme is straightforward but the starting point again is recycled materials. We have also reduced the thickness of the paper used to cut down on bulk. Antico Broilo makes every effort to implement separate waste collection and has joined other Prepotto-based estates in a collective scheme. Shortly, an initiative called Salviamo il Tappo (Save the Stopper) will get under way to recycle used stoppers to make pre-compressed walls or sound insulation materials. We shall see how that goes. These reflections illustrate our estate philosophy but we are sure that there is room to do more. We will accept the challenge, just as we have always considered alternative proposals that keep pace with the times. I hope the above information proves useful and offer you my warmest greetings.