An Invitation to Investigate Italian Viticulture #ItalianFWT

No this is NOT a vineyard in Italy or a biodynamic one. This is an experimental plot of Chardonnay by a citrus company in Santa Paula where I was pruning today.


Dictionary result for viticulture

  1. the cultivation of grapevines.
    • the study of grape cultivation.


This March, I am hosting the Italian Food Wine Travel (ItalianFWT) investigation into Italian Viticulture. We’re a group of influential wine, food, and travel writers with a passion for Italy, and we get together on the first Saturday of each month to compare notes on a particular topic, for example, last month was Sagrantino hosted by Jeff Burrows and in October I hosted Lugana.

My original idea was to have us focus on biodynamic wines of Italy by finding wines certified by Demeter, but when many of us found this challenging, myself included, I suggested we shift to Italian Viticulture in general with an emphasis on biodynamic, organic, and other green practices but not necessary certified, so we could explore the stories and controversies around this subject.



bio·​dy·​nam·​ic | \ ˌbī-(ˌ)ō-di-ˈna-mik , -dī-\

Definition of biodynamic

1: of or relating to a system of farming that follows a sustainable, holistic approach which uses only organic, usually locally-sourced materials for fertilizing and soil conditioning, views the farm as a closed, diversified ecosystem, and often bases farming activities on lunar cycles. Followers of biodynamic viticulture not only abstain from the use of chemicals, but also take a more holistic approach, viewing their environment—the soil, plants and animals—as a working unity that should be as self-sustaining as possible.— Alison Napjus biodynamic practices

: grown by or utilizing biodynamic farming 

According to the Biodynamic Association, 

Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition.

To learn what biodynamic is NOT, check out Craig Camp’s recent blog post. As general manager of Troon Vineyards, he’s been overseeing their Demeter biodynamic certification, and he’s a bit frustrated but not too surprised with how the media is describing biodynamics:

Those of us who farm wine grapes biodynamically are not doing a good job of getting out the real story. That could be because the biodynamic movement is not a monolith, but a complicated web with divergent branches and diverse self-interests. That makes for a muddled message and creates an information issue biodynamic winegrowers have to confront. While there may be divergent opinions and methods within the biodynamic community, all share a common final goal.

That goal might be to make great wine, but for many of the biodynamic winemakers I’ve met and talked to, the goal is to take better care of the planet, and they see themselves as farmers first.

While biodynamic and organic wines can create distinct expressions of terroir (that also last longer and contribute less to a hangover), unfortunately, people who make wine this way are not immune to bad farming and winemaking which can destroy a sense of terroir just as easily as applying excessive chemicals.

At the end of his post, Craig says:

…it’s no wonder that writers struggle with understanding the practice of biodynamics, so do we. Agricultural knowledge is always evolving. There is much we don’t know and much we will never know. Bringing science and biodynamics together will be the next chapter.

For those who want to learn more, Craig suggests reading:

Interested in investigating Italian Viticulture with us? There are many stories to be told about this ancient practice that began thousands of years ago when the original inhabitants of Italy noticed grapes vines growing up trees and figured out they could ferment the fruit to make wine!

You are invited to participate by publishing your investigation into Italian viticulture between Friday March 1 and Saturday March 2. We’ll gather on twitter on Saturday March 2 from 8-9am Pacific to discuss what we learned and the wines we tasted. So that I can include your title in the preview post, by noon Weds. Feb. 27, please send me your title and the URL of your blog by email or post it in the comments below.

So simply choose a bottle of wine from any region of Italy that is organic or biodynamic or has a viticultural story worth telling.

  • If you’re a blogger, and want to participate with a post telling us about the wine, leave a comment with your title below or email me ASAP but no later that Feb 27 so I can include you in the preview post.
  • We love to see wine and food pairings and to learn more about where the wine came from. While we’ve learned that what grows together goes together, your food pairing does not have to be Italian cuisine.
  • Stay tuned for the preview post late Wednesday sharing who will be writing about what and where.
  • Publish your post between 8am Friday March 1 and 8am Sat. March 2.
  • Plan on joining us Sat. March 2 for our live twitter chat from 8-9am Pacific time by following our hashtag #ItalianFWT.
  • Get social!  We read, comment and share each other’s blog posts and tweets!
  • We’re a very engaged and supportive community, and all are welcome to participate whether with a blog post or in our twitter chat. There is so much to learn about Italian Wine and we’re all in this together!

PS I spent last week taking the Vinitaly Wine Ambassador Course! I learned SO much and I am so excited right now about Italian wine! So stay tuned — and subscribe!

2019 Themes and hosts for Italian Food Wine Travel #ItalianFWT:

And what does 2019 offer us?
  • January: Camilla M. Mann, Italian Wines for Cold Winter Nights
  • February: Jeff Burrows, Umbria, with a focus on Sagrantino
  • March 2: I’m hosting Biodynamic Wines
  • April: Jason Or Jill Barth, Island Wines of Italy
  • May: Lynn Gowdy Marche and the Pecorino grape
  • June: Katarina Andersson Lambrusco? or other
  • July: Camilla M. Mann – Lazio Wines
  • August: Kevin Gagnon Whites of Northeastern Italy
  • September – Jennifer Gentile Martin Passito Wines
  • October – David Crowley Abruzzo
  • November: Wendy Klik, Outside the Norm of Chianti in Tuscany (Montecucco, Bolgheri, Maremma, Valdarno di Sopra)
  • December: Susannah Gold Lesser Known Wine Regions of Italy (Molise, Basilicata, etc)



13 thoughts on “An Invitation to Investigate Italian Viticulture #ItalianFWT

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