Antonio is cultivating 15 hectares of vineyard on the Italian Appeninian foothills. His family has been producing winegrapes for three generation, on medium slope hills with an average altitude of 300 m.
Like father and grandfather did, Antonio is using a traditional Guyot system, 3,000 vines per hectare with 2.5 m between rows to be able to pass comfortably with the tractor.
For decades the practices inherited from his grandfather had allowed a reasonable production of 9-10 tons per hectare, and the tractor, the sprayer and the tiller bought by his father allowed to reduce the effort needed to manage the vineyard in the vegetative period.
The Sangiovese grape produced has always had a good Babo grade and the cooperative winery to which it is conferred recognized a sufficient price to run the farm, which also produces cereals and same fodder.
Unfortunately, in the last 10 years everything has changed.
First, vines increasingly suffer from drought during the summer period. Spring rainfalls are increasingly less abundant, and you often have 2-3 summer months without rain. Antonio's vines and those of his neighbors have never needed irrigation, so he not only does not have a drip system in the vineyard, but not even access to a consortium water supply or a pond as a water reserve for the summer months.
Even worse, when water comes it's with very strong thunderstorms, and the free run water is digging channels that are dangerous even for the tractor. The most worrying aspect is the erosion of soil in sloping vineyards, because at every storm tons of soil accumulate at the bottom of the plot. The layer of superficial soil gets thinner and thinner and some plants have already their roots uncovered.
As if that was not enough, Antonio records more and more extreme temperatures: in the last decade, in July has already reached 37-38°C in three years, even if for few days, and vineyards in the valley bottom have been seriously damaged by frost in two consecutive years.
The result is that more and more often Antonio has a much lower grape production, in some years even half of what he used to produce. The sugar level is good and the grapes are healthy enough, but the higher unit price paid by the cooperative winery does not compensate at all the lower production, also because the cost of fuel, products and fertilizers has increased at the same time.
Antonio's father shakes his head and does not know how to deal with these changes, but Antonio must absolutely find a solution and reverse the trend, if he wants to avoid bankruptcy and leave the productive vineyards as an inheritance to his children