Does the sustainability perception depend on the Terroir?

The main scope of this research has been to investigate what values are attributed to the concept of “sustainability” by the wine producers of two different wine territories of Piedmont; the terroir of the Barolo DOCG and the the terroir of the Gavi DOCG. The research wants to emphasize how much the characteristic elements of each terroir influence the perception of the concept of sustainability among producers. 

In the present work, sustainability has been assessed under three criteria: 

  • environmental (choice of farming techniques for the vineyard, adoption of environmental certifications and best practices, defence of vineyard biodiversity and landscape preservation); 
  • socio-economic (type of business conduction, type of work contracts, forms of remuneration for the grapes, relations with professional associations). 
  • productive (estimate of emissions generated during the production processes and, in the case of the carbon footprint, during the product’s life cycle). 

The inquiry has been conducted through face to face interviews with members of a selected group of wine firms, wine cooperatives and other producers located in the investigated territories with the objective of evaluating the existence between their distinct categories of relevant differences in the perception and interpretation of the concept of sustainability. 

The processing of the obtained data has noticed the coexistence of different forms of judgment and sensitivity toward the analysed subject. At the same time it has been observed a non homogeneous perception of the value of “sustainability” in the different fields investigated due to the lack of an univocal definition of the same concept of “sustainability” in the wine sector. 

In the terroir of Barolo DOCG, a traditional productive area of certified wines, there is a certain quota of producers who can be identified as “sustainable” without a clear awareness on their part. In the terroir of Gavi DOCG, on the other hand, it seems that sustainability is experienced with more attention due especially to the precise strategy of some producers oriented to the concept of sustainability for reasons of company and market policy. 

Therefore “sustainability” could be influenced effectively by the territorial context in which the producer operates and could substantially reinforce both the image of Piedmontese wines and their terroir of production, intercepting that growing segment of final consumers who uses the attributes related to the sustainability of a wine as a discriminating element of their purchasing choice. 

Authors: Stefano MASSAGLIA (1) , Danielle BORRA (1), Alessio Marco LAZZARI (1), Elena MANIA (1) , Silvia GUIDONI (1) 

(1) Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Forestali e Alimentari, Università di Torino, Largo Paolo Braccini 2,10095 Grugliasco (To),Italy 

Email: stefano.massaglia@unito.it 

Keywords: Barolo, Gavi, Terroir, Sustainability 

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