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CAMPOREALE, SICILY, ITALY
The grape Perricone is a native variety found mainly in the west of Sicily. Valdibella are one of the few growers that are still championing this variety. It was almost lost due to its difficulties in growing. The yields are low, and when grown without proper manual attention it can lead to very unbalanced grapes.
Valdibella is a very special project, a cooperative founded in 1998 by five producers, and which now comprises a group of 20 farmers, 10 of which are vine growers.
The focus has always been on natural farming, certified organic from the very start as none of the growers involved had ever used chemicals in the past. Although wine is the core of their business, the land dedicated to vines makes up 50 of their 250 hectares. The rest is planted with almond trees, olive trees, and grains, in an effort to increase biodiversity, polyculture, as well as preserving natural land.
These ideals also find their way into the cellar. Over the years they have moved towards a more and more natural approach. The wines are always made with as little interference as possible, and with no additions beyond a small addition of sulphites if necessary. The range also includes various wines made without the addition of any sulphites, an ideal which they continue to experiment with. The focus has always been to create expressions of their local grapes that are as pure and unmanipulated as possible.
Beyond the farming, they also deeply believe in social commitment. They currently take part in various activities to support local troubled youths and to help them integrate into society as part of a wider local project. They are encouraged to take part in the cooperative's work and have direct contact with all of the growers and their ideals, with the hope of inspiring more young people to follow this line of work and to share the same natural philosophy.
In 2004, Valdibella were also amongst the first people who adhered to the newly-founded 'Addiopizzo,' a protest movement against the racket (or 'pizzo') imposed on Sicilian shopkeepers by the local mafia. In their own words, "to say NO to the pizzo means to sustain the social equilibrium and the dignity of Sicily." The 'Addiopizzo' logo is on all of the products commercialised by Valdibella.