Tenuta Cocci Grifoni has long been a pioneer of the Marche region’s native grape varieties. Most notably, Pecorino. The founder of the winery, Guido, played a fundamental role in this variety’s revival and renewed success. However, they are also pioneering the protection and encouragement of biodiversity on their land. In the context of today’s changing climate, this work is vital for the continued success of their vineyards.
Biodiversity at Tenuta Cocci Grifoni is more than just a buzzword. It is not sustainability wrapped up in a marketing plan, but a true dedication to ensuring the protection of their land for the future. This is not the typical approach of many wineries, which is what continues to make Tenuta Cocci Grifoni pioneers of winemaking in the Marche.
Land Management for the Wild
One of the most important aspects of Tenuta Cocci Grifoni’s approach to protecting biodiversity is how they manage their land. Beyond using organic methods and ensuring a low impact, it is specifically the amount of land they have dedicated to various uses.
Of their 95 hectares in the Piceno hills, 50% are vineyards of native vines – Pecorino, Passerino, and Montepulciano. Another 20% is used for a variety of cereals and legumes, as well as a native olive grove and a personal vegetable garden. Having lots of other plants besides vineyards helps to keep the soil healthy, and also continues on the agricultural traditions of the area. Often times, traditional knowledge of how to manage local land is the most comprehensive and sustainable; it is important to continue using this knowledge, even with more modern technology, as it strengthens community bonds and ensures that the knowledge is not lost.
The remaining 30% of Tenuta Cocci Grifoni’s land is left to fallow. This is extremely important in the protection and encouragement of biodiversity. Native populations of insects, flora, fauna, and birds can happily thrive in this wild land. And, because this fallow land surrounds the vineyards and fields, there is a net positive impact on the soil health of all the land. Essentially, Tenuta Cocci Grifoni has provided the ability for nature to do what she does best, create healthy ecosystems that thrive, and make wine in a way that mimics this ecosystem.
Birds are not generally the first creature that comes to mind when thinking about healthy vineyards. However, our friends in the sky are the best indicator of a well-functioning ecosystem. So, their presence should be celebrated and Tenuta Cocci Grifoni does not hesitate to do just that!
They have been working in partnership with LIPU (Lega Italiana Protezione Uccelli) – an Italian non-profit that is devoted to the country’s wildlife with a particular focus on the protection of birds – to monitor the activity of birds on the winery’s estate. The results were extremely positive, with sixty nesting couples identified and at least nine dominant species noted. Migratory and predatory species of birds were also witnessed on the estate’s fallow lands.
Birds will nest, pass through, and hunt in areas that are rich in insects, healthy plants, and other species. So, the high presence of birdlife on Tenuta Cocci Grifoni’s estate is a positive indicator of their healthy ecosystem, which only further enhances the quality of their grapes.
Organize a bird watching and wine tasting experience at Tenuta Cocci Grifoni! It is one of the winery’s most unique ways of interacting with the territory and their wines. With help from LIPU, they have created a bird watching trail that loops through their estate. A bird watching and wine tasting tour includes a LIPU guide through the bird watching trail followed by a tasting three wines paired with local food products.
This approach to protecting and encouraging biodiversity extends to their winemaking as well. While not biodynamic, the winery is certified organic by “Suolo e Salute.” Only native yeasts from the Pecorino and Montepulciano grape skins are used in the wine fermentation, not industrial wine yeasts. Biodiversity in yeasts is probably not something that one often thinks about, but by preserving the native yeasts of their grapes, they have a stronger colony and a truer expression of the wine’s terroir.