Arnaldo Caprai and New Green Revolution


03 February 2020
Montefalco (PG)

"With this philosophy, Marco Caprai has developed a virtuous path over the years with universities and research centres, pursuing the qualitative and expressive excellence of Sagrantino di Montefalco. For more than 15 years, the Arnaldo Caprai winery has set itself the goal of sharing the great challenges of the planet, aware that "sustainable production" is the added value for a viticulture that aims at quality while respecting the territory from which it originates.

Arnaldo Caprai is a winery in Montefalco (PG) that currently cultivates 160 hectares of specialised vineyards, vinifies its own grapes and markets its wines in Italy and in over 35 countries worldwide. The company's production is based on the cultivation and vinification of the native Sagrantino di Montefalco grape, a variety rediscovered and re-launched on the international market by the Caprai company in the early 1990s. In recent years, the AC Signature line, the result of the synergy between Arnaldo Caprai and Michel Rolland, signs a unique method of approaching wine, the synthesis of a long work based on innovation and sustainability, in search of the essence of viticulture with the objective bordering on a dream: the perfect wine. This is how Malcompare - only Pinot Noir - and Belcompare - only Merlot - were born, alongside Spinning Beauty, the extreme soul of Sagrantino, the first 2006 vintage, thus a wine born almost ten years before the collaboration with Michel Rolland (only in 2025 will Spinning Beauty 100% by Rolland be released). A renewed interpretation of the potential of the territory in which it is born, through a new interpretation of dedicated winemaking techniques, a synthesis of constant agronomic and oenological commitment.

Innovation through experimentation continuous, both in the agronomic and oenological fields. The use of appropriate agronomic techniques, the rationalisation of phytosanitary management, the limitation of nitrogenous fertilisation and the study of the best environmental situations for growing the vine, have represented for Sagrantino the main way to obtain quality grapes within a process of production sustainability. The process, which began in the late 1980s with the planting of numerous experimental vineyards, is now strongly geared towards production sustainability with the "New Green Revolution. Launched in 2007, the project obtained certification by CSQA in 2012, becoming the Italy's first certified territorial sustainability protocol in the wine sector. Awarded at the EXPO in Milan, the sustainability protocol for Montefalco wine will be adopted in 2019 by the national 'Equalitas' standard, which promotes Italian wine-growing sustainability internationally.

But Sustainable Development must be considered as a dynamic balance between environmental quality, economic development and social equity. It should not aim at merely maintaining a 'status quo', but instead move in the direction of change, recognising that human society is in constant motion. It can be seen from an environmental point of view, meaning an agricultural respectful of natural resources such as water, soil fertility, biodiversity, and that does not use polluting chemicals. In this area, Arnaldo Caprai has invested significant economic and design resources to create prototypes of agricultural machinery and digital management systems to reduce environmental impact. The impact of the actions undertaken is measured annually by evaluating the specific indicator of the last agricultural year with the base line of the previous 7 years.

Sustainable agriculture, it must also be so from an economic point of view. There would be no enterprise that does not create favourable conditions for the farmer by promoting a fair income, protecting the health of the operator and improving the quality of life of farmers and society as a whole. The climate change is currently recognised as one of the most serious environmental, social and economic challenges the world is facing. Economic losses due to extreme weather events have increased considerably in recent decades. Agriculture is among the most exposed sectors due to its dependence on climatic conditions. A study by the Department of Agricultural Economics of the University of Florence (Bernetti I., et al., 2009), it has been estimated that property damage in the period 2007-2099 could amount to around 490 million euro for the Tuscan wine sector alone. The latest innovation project in order of time realised by Arnaldo Caprai had the objective of optimising response procedures to adverse weather events to improve and increase the safety, productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of the territorial wine-growing sector through the use, valorisation, combination and exploitation of knowledge and management technology adapted to the context of the operators in the Umbrian wine-growing sector. The Agroclim Technology projectfinanced by measure 16.2 Innovation of the 2014-2020 RDP of Umbria, has created an integrated model of latest-generation technologies to respond to the main biotic and abiotic emergencies affecting vineyards. In particular, equipment integrated with management software (DSS) was developed to reduce damage from phytosanitary attacks (variable rate product recovery sprayer), late frost (automated anti-frost systems) and summer heat waves (variable rate irrigation systems). The combined use of the three technologies has made it possible to reduce by 60% consumption of pesticides, preserving production from sub-zero spring temperatures (even this year, temperatures of -2 °C were reached at the end of April*) and only perform relief irrigation where necessary (smart irrigation and preventive planning) with savings of more than 35% in water consumption.

Protecting crops with technology and big data analysis is therefore the new real challenge to preserve and enhance agricultural income. It is necessary to move from passive to active defence, capable of preserving the production value of crops that, like vines, can express products with extraordinary added value.

From the point of view of social sustainability the company is called upon to consolidate its relationship with the territory, with the people who live and work there, preserving its cultural and identity aspects. While on the one hand the project #caprai4love placed the theme of solidarity at the centre of the recovery of the territory's artistic assets, the 3K.0' innovation project addressed the issue of transparency of agricultural work. This experimental experience resulted in an App for smartphones, in collaboration with a major Umbrian company that produces personnel management systems, which allows all employees to clock in and out at any company vineyard. The stamping system allows the automatic development of the employee's monthly pay slip, which can check hours worked, request leave and plan days off. In short, a very efficient personnel management system is combined with complete transparency of the labour hours used in the production process.

Since 2016, Arnaldo Caprai has started a collaboration with Caritas of Foligno and other local associations engaged in social work for the integration of immigrants into the world of work. Only in the last three years has it been possible to over 30 asylum seekers from North Africa to work in the vineyard during different times of the year. The cooperation yielded very promising results, as more than 60% of the immigrants who joined the company reconfirmed their presence in subsequent years and stabilised their employment position.

The work and training of employees are at the centre of the company's interests, which needs new skills for the use of technology on agricultural equipment. For this reason, Arnaldo Caprai is home to the Umbria ITS agrifood course for the wine sector. In the first three years of the course, more than 60 students attended lessons on the farm and worked directly in the vineyard and cellar. More than a dozen students were then employed at the end of the course.

Understanding to recogniseThis could be the intangible headline of the Caprai winery, flanked by another claim: to know in order to grow; finally to grow in order to improve. For Arnaldo Caprai, time has always represented a constant propensity for innovation. In viticulture, there is no point of arrival, the future will always belong to those who look ahead, and for Caprai, time has always drawn a space to be lived between research and continuous experimentation.

* in 2017, spring frosts compromised 90% production in some vineyards

Few other wineries in Italy and around the world are immediately identified just by mentioning the name of the denomination to which they belong, like Arnaldo Caprai, itself a symbol of Sagrantino di Montefalco. A unique reality, synonymous with Italian excellence, capable of creating wines that are out of the ordinary in terms of depth, elegance and longevity: not only reds, but also whites. The credit for this adventure that began in the late 1970s goes to Marco Caprai, Arnaldo's son. It was he, in fact, more than anyone else who believed in the richness of Sagrantino, reinterpreting it in a modern key, through the most innovative production and business management methods, which have enabled him to win the favour of the public and critics all over the world. Not to be outdone by the whites: Arnaldo Caprai's Grecante, 100% Grechetto, managed to conquer Wine Spectator's Top100.
A great company, Arnaldo Caprai, that guards a green soul, considering issues concerning sustainability, protection and safeguarding the environment as fundamental. The point of observation always remains the same: trying to behave in harmony with natural evolution cycles, preserving and enhancing the territory in which it operates. This is why the company decided to create an Environmental Management System that complies with international regulations, developing a voluntary territorial protocol of environmental, economic and social sustainability of the production process.
It is in this unparalleled context that wines of unforgettable substance are born, complex and elegant, capable of narrating the best of an entire region, Umbria.


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