Today is the International Mountain Day.
Mountains contribute considerably to global biodiversity, providing many ecosystem services such as food, medicinal resources, and freshwater to more than a fifth of the world’s population. It is an important topic also for Italy, if we consider that 76% of the national surface is hilly or mountainous.
As we are celebrating the natural biodiversity of the mountains, it is a day in which we are also supporting its people and their agricultural activities. The presence of man in these environments has created landscapes of extraordinary beauty, some being recognized as sites of the Unesco world heritage such as the Dolomites. These areas which are already at a disadvantage and high hydrological risk, require a certain respect to maintain its beauty, resources, and functionality.
In Italy, mountains also provide a unique set of microclimates that help to produce a wide range of quality, charming wines. That’s why it is vital to preserve the activities of the wine estates and small producers who dedicated their lives to it.
In 1987, based on the protection of wine production in mountain areas, the CERVIM was created.
CERVIM is an Italian organization that joins international regions and regional bodies, united by the interest of enhancing and safeguarding the mountain viticulture. CERVIM, based in Val d’Aosta, brings together regions linked by what some define as ‘heroic viticulture’, a name given to represent the particularly extreme environmental and working conditions.
The Scientific and Technical Committee of the center defines the criteria to identify this viticulture as:
· Vineyard sites at altitudes over 500 meters (1600 feet).
· Orographic conditions that create impediments to mechanization.
· Vines planted on slopes greater than 30%.
· Vines planted on terraces or embankments.
– Vines planted on small islands in difficult growing conditions.
The activities undertaken by CERVIM intend to pursue the following objectives:
· Preserve, sustain, enhance, and promote mountain viticulture and/or relief in difficult conditions (steep slopes and terraces) which are threatened by abandonment because of the characteristics of the territory and the high cost of production;
· Maintain relations with institutions, both public and private, which are in any way concerned with protection and enhancement of the wine sector
· Promote technical, scientific, cultural promotions related to the mountain viticulture, including the organization of mountain wine travel
· Promote wine-growing areas in the mountainous territories, environmental conservation, landscape protection, and maintenance of social and cultural prerequisites for the activation of rural development processes
· Promoting solutions to the protection of mountain areas, reducing production costs, and the processing of the grapes
· Enhance the quality of mountain wines, develop research and technological innovation, and the dissemination of knowledge;
· Act as the coordinating head of mountain viticulture bodies and institutions operating at regional, national, and international levels
· Manage by involving other public or private sales/promotions, including those in the economic and commercial nature, that are aimed at pursuing the goals of associations.
Among the many aims pre-established by CERVIM in the past 25 years of activity, there has always been the necessity to bring awareness to the wines of the ‘heroic viticulture’ and the challenges it faces; to give importance to the people and production of these ‘hidden corners’.
CERVIM organizes events and competitions as the The Mondial des Vins Extrêmes wine competition under the patronage of the OIV, authorized by the Ministry for Agricultural, Food, and Forestry Policies. It is the only wine competition in the world specifically dedicated to the promotion of wines produced in ‘heroic’ wine-growing areas.
The competition selects the best wines originating from extreme viticulture with the purpose of defending and rewarding the production of small wine-growing areas. Holders of a distinctive history and bearers of a long-lasting tradition, these regions shelter valuable and unique landscapes and focus on cultivating local vine varieties. These wine-growing sanctuaries are at risk of disappearing because of their considerable production costs, which are ten times higher than in flatland vineyards. The entries of the competition has grown exponentially in the past few years in terms of international range and wine varieties.
Traveling to these places in Italy is an unique opportunity to see some of the most breathtaking landscapes, to taste charming and vibrant wines, to get to know the secrets of this “extreme” way of life.