Discover Soave’s Traditional Vineyards, Italy’s First GIAHS site

Soave’s traditional vineyards are an agro-economic system that provide income to many families for over 200 years. The grape growing is completely directed to the production of the typical wine of the territory, Soave DOC, one of the most famous Italian white wines, exported to 80 countries all over the world. There is also a small production of a typical product called Recioto di Soave that is made from an ancient technique of drying grapes and dates back to the middle ages.

Even though it is characterized by small or micro winery, Soave DOC has succeeded in remaining competitive thanks to cooperation and innovation. This is the active role of Soave Consorzio and of the cooperative system that make this appellation succeed and thrive. Now Soave is a complete circular economic system, where about 3.000 families live on the land and it creates an extended economy that involves more than 10.000 people.

Soils, expositions to the sun and climate define a peculiar and original identity. It is on the Soave hills that, thanks to the determination of the grape growers and the connection between Garganega (which composes 80% of the production) and Trebbiano di Soave (the remaining 20%), the native varieties, and the environment, that the entire system strengthens.

Since the Soave Vineyards were known in the past two hundred years as symbols of a quality wine region, the production of grapes has always been the main crop in the area. Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave grapes are native because their presence is documented since the middle ages and they are in a complete balance with the soil and the climate conditions. In addition, in the area there are other cultivations of typical varieties such as cherry trees (Mora di Cazzano) and olive trees (Grignano) that continue to be planted and used for integrate the incomes that come from viticulture. Some projects started 10 years ago, made this a pioneering area in the preservation of the soil and the landscape, to prevent erosion with the arrangements such as stone walls and terraces as well as with studies on biodiversity. On the other hand, the studies on sustainability, both for the environment and for people try to find solutions for the technical problems originated from working on steep slopes, starting from the maintenance to the way to lead the vineyards in terms of agricultural choices such as organic or integrated agriculture. These factors combined with the strong determination of the grape growers to continue this kind of viticulture despite all the difficulties make Soave the perfect example of preservation of a traditional agricultural site, recognized as the first Italian Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System Rural by the UN for its unchanged and protected characteristics lasting for a entire century.