With the 2019 growing season, the ValorInVitis project financed under the Rural Development Programme of Emilia Romagna and aimed at expanding and enhancing biodiversity for a competitive and sustainable management of  viticulture in Piacenza area has come to an end. A project coordinated by Prof. Stefano Poni of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Piacenza which also involved the companies Horta srl (services for agriculture), Vinidea (training and technical-scientific divulgation activities) and eight wineries in the area.

Starting from the 2017 campaign, the farms have hosted demonstration activities aimed at i) verifying the varietal adaptability of the minor grape cultivars of the “Colli Piacentini” wine district, ii) evaluating the new Ervi varietal cross compared to the Barbera and Croatina parental varieties, iii) deepening the kinetics of grape ripening in mountain and foothill areas. In addition, the Plan, promoted by the “ValorInVitis” Operational Group for Innovation, allowed the planting and preliminary evaluation of innovative genetic material for the assessment of the adaptability of iv) new rootstocks tolerant to water stress and v) hybrids of the latest generation resistant to downy and powdery mildew, for which a very reduced use of pesticides can be assumed, to the soil and climate conditions of the Piacenza area.

The preliminary results, still in the final elaboration phase, highlight the potential of the viticultural germplasm in terms of innovation and differentiation of local productions as well as resilience to climate change. The Plan has resulted in the identification of smaller local grape varieties alternative and/or complementary to Ortrugo, such as Barbesino and Molinelli, capable of maintaining a higher acidity in the final stage of ripening, suitable to provide solutions to maintain and strengthen the identity of the area suitable for the production of sparkling wine. The Plan has also contributed to the characterization of the Ervi (Barbera x Croatina) varietal cross, attracting the interest of many wine-growers and re-proposing, supported by a rigorous three-year characterization of the vine’s performance with respect to the parental ones, the theme of the valorization of the vine within the production specifications. The activities carried out in Val Trebbia, assumed as a representative territory of the most inland, foothill and disadvantaged areas, have shown how viticulture can take advantage of more favourable climatic conditions in terms of altitude and exposure, guaranteeing the typicality of local production in a global warming perspective. By way of example, in the more inland areas, Malvasia di Candia aromatica and Ortrugo have reached technological maturity with a delay of about 7-10 days, a delay useful to put back the harvest time in a period of the season more favourable to the achievement of technological and aromatic quality standards.

The Plan has already provided concrete results for all the wineries involved and, especially for the wineries operating in Val Trebbia, has allowed the realization of promotional events related to the dissemination of the results. However, in addition to the aforementioned environmental impact and the prospects for disadvantaged areas, ValorInVitis has also made it possible to launch mechanisms that can guarantee the presence of vineyard operators in the future. Among these, activities have been carried out with the aim of bringing young people and non-EU citizens closer to work in the vineyard, first of all making it known in practice and enhancing it as a helthy activity of great personal satisfaction with an important social function.