Return to the Future - Biological - Biodiverse - Sustainable
According to the records of our Parish Church, San Lorenzo at Picinisco, our family have lived (and therefore farmed at I Ciacca) since records began 500 years ago.
Sustainability seems proven.
As I Ciacca had been abandoned for over 50 years, before we cleared and replanted the farm, we are absolutely certain that chemicals have never been used as fertiliser or pest control.
We sit in the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise - described by Lonely Planet in 2011 as 1 of the 5 best parks in Europe. Lying on the south west facing slopes of Monte Meta, the second highest mountain of the southern Appenines, we benefit from a unique micro climate.
We strive to maintain these privileges we have inherited.
What are we trying to achieve as a Family?
Our primary AIM is to develop a sustainable, profitable business, rooted in organic principles, while reflecting best practice and modern scientific research
to do so in a collaborative fashion within the wider community. Therefore, sharing knowledge, experience and customers are essential elements of our plans.
Sofia received the Award “Donna Impresa” 2016 from the Record of The University of Cassino
To support our organic philosophy, we have been awarded "Biological Certification" by ICEA.
We fertilise our vines and olives with farm manure and Green manures (various legumes and barleys to introduce nitrogen to the soil or control excessive plant growth). Our vines are treated with traditional copper - in very strictly controlled quantities; sulphur and naturally forming minerals.
Our bees play a very important part of our approach.
Our aim is to get as close to closed circuit farming as we can.
“Dott. ANTONINI ALBERTO
“I think the wine project that we are developing at I Ciacca is of great interest because the environment has great potential to produce fine wines with character, personality, identity and great quality. What attracted me from the very first visit I made was the calcareous SOIL, well drained and with excellent exposure; the ALTITUDE (600 meters above sea level) that allows a large temperature range between day and night and especially during maturation low night temperatures favour the development of aromatic complexity , freshness and vitality in wines; and great BIODIVERSITY in the environment with woods, olive groves, herbaceous plants and vines, which I now consider to be indispensable to producing the highest quality wine.
“I am also excited to be able to develop the whole project with organic farming, which does not use synthetic chemicals and respects the integrity of the environment and the authentic character of the wines produced. It was also important to have decided to plant vineyards and produce wines only with varieties native to Val di Comino, like Maturano, which makes the project even more attractive.
“Val di Comino, where I Ciacca is to be found, is a fascinating place for its purity and lack of contamination and reminds me with its hills, limestone soils, altitudes and biodiversity of the great wine regions such as Chianti, Barolo , Burgundy or Rioja ....definitely a place where there is a very high potential to produce fine wines and where there are also many native historic varieties abandoned due to international varieties of fashion but which are now recovering, partly because consumers are showing more and more interest for native varieties from the various regions of Italy.
“To be consistent with the concept of estate wines and authenticity we decided to develop a winery that could incorporate the complexity and character of organic grapes and turn them into a wine that speaks truthfully of their place of origin, it was important to devise the least aggressive process for the treatment of the grapes (which is why we have chosen a gravity system) in conceiving the cellar to create a natural environment for all the forms of life which arrive with the grapes and then the exclusive use of natural materials such as cement and traditional large oak barrels (distinct from the traditional French barrique) to make and mature the wines. Our idea is to "return to the future" rediscovering ancient production techniques that will help us make our wines excellent and appreciated in national and international markets.
“In a country rich in history, traditions and that has hundreds of varieties of native grapes, to be colonised by France with its varieties and its techniques for maturation (I mean the barrels that we are not going to use in favour of the traditional large barrels) is not just what we want.....
“I'm impressed by the fact that the grapes that I tried in various vineyards of Val di Comino fascinated me for their character and I think that working organically with great care for the management of the soil and the plants we can really produce wines that will leave a mark.
“I’m also very supportive for the development of the Center of Excellence in Agronomy, Wine and Gastronomy because it could really be, as well as a forum for discussion and training on three related topics, also a place where we discuss the recovery of a beautiful area, uncontaminated and with great potential in wine and agricultural quality that has been abandoned in recent decades for social and economic reasons removing from the young hope of finding a future in their homeland. I
believe that this Center could instead rediscover the enthusiasm and the energy necessary to revitalise the valley to the social and economic level it merits.
“To recover abandoned land, restore the hydrogeological fabric, the beautiful old, abandoned buildings, to aim for sustainable agriculture and organic farming and to produce authentic products from the land are elements that can really give hope to the region in a more natural way and re- attract people to the territory.
“Surely if the project continues with high quality standards in human resources development agency there should be strong interest from national and international sponsors and potential partners who are interested to become part of it because the natural products are each day conquering niches that the market finds more interesting and attractive. It is now clear that the fascination that the agricultural products and food of Italy has for the market is closely linked to the diversity which each region can offer and which many other countries cannot, which is why we must stay focused on our traditions with the ability to promote them in a globalised world.
Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.
It has three main pillars: economic, environmental, and social and this is what it means for us.
The I Ciacca project must be self supporting – in other words it needs to be profitable – although we have taken the unfashionable view that the investment will be for the long term requiring in the short term a sufficient return to meet running costs and working capital – with our investment return being long term. We have chosen not to be industrial in scale but artisan in nature. That means costs are very high. So profitability can only be achieved by highest quality products and services appreciated by markets prepared to pay the appropriate price.
Our environmental ethos is multilayered
- We exist in the National Park in an area of high biodiversity and our land clearing sought to maintain that by retaining mature trees and existing drainage ditches, etc.
- We encourage eating seasonal, local produce, recognising that traditional preserving techniques and freezing are essential skills to deal with surplus seasonal products and give variety in the kitchen.
- We are not a closed system farm, but we are organic from a philosophical perspective - meaning that if possible we will use natural techniques. For example, we use green manures (ie beans and barley to stimulate plant growth and soil management.
- We plan to be self sufficient in energy – underfloor electric heating, sophisticated hot water systems, induction cookers, solar panels, wind turbines and modern energy storage batteries.
- We have introduced rainwater storage systems for watering and other farm needs and for toilets, and we are actively searching for a natural ground water source for drinking water.
- We have used traditional building techniques and materials, where possible and sensible, given the earthquake protection works which required to be carried out
We are working with the local community to preserve knowledge, culture and traditions. We employ principally a young team and encourage them to extend their knowledge and education;
- With the help of people in Scotland USA, Canada and Italy we have gathered over 100 local recipes, translated in english and italian, which is nearly ready for publication.
- We are working with the local School of Agriculture to provide work experience for students.
- We are working with the School and a local group who help disabled children to design, plant and manage a vegetable garden to serve the Cookery School.
- The Cookery School will employ local housewives to teach traditional dishes and techniques to visitors
- We have arranged a first 5 day school visit from Scotland, which will include visits to various local food producers as well as some pasta/ pizza making experience and a final party involving a local folk group.
- We are working with a number of local and international guides to persuade them of the benefits of working together,
- We are working with an English artist from Picinisco who is working to establish an Accademia of Art based here
- The restoration of I Ciacca and our collaborative approach is giving HOPE to the local community
Going forward we continue to strive to create:
- Collaboration among local businesses
- Collaboration among Universities and Colleges abroad and in Italy
- A Partnership between Education and Commerce
- A Sustainable Non Profit Foundation