door | 7 jun 2021 | Internationaal

Families, circular economy and the environment: the strength of Cantine Settesoli’s development model.

Menfi, June 2021 – The land as the driving force that produces culture, which, in turn, generates value: 62 years after its foundation, Cantine Settesoli’s virtuous circle now bears its fruit. Starting from the challenges of environmental virtuosity and social responsibility, this Sicilian cooperative writes a new page in its history: a long-term project in which circular economy and attention to the territory will play an increasingly important role.

Established in 1958 thanks to the intuition of winemakers from Menfi, Cantine Settesoli was not only a cooperative where grapes would be brought, but an organization that transformed a product into a commodity of greater economic value: wine. The activity created in Menfi has developed over the years to generate a proper parallel economy that is perfectly integrated with the territory and within wine production. From the sale of bulk products, in 1974, part of the production was packaged, with first bottled wines also exported abroad, under the supervision of then president, Diego Planeta.

1999: Mandrarossa is born Another milestone was reached in 1999 with the creation of the Mandrarossa brand. Today, it is Cantine Settesoli’s multi-award-winning top brand exclusively aimed at the HoReCa channel and closely linked to experimentation. Mandrarossa pays very close attention to vineyard management and grape quality, coming exclusively from 500 of the 6,000 hectares cultivated.

“We now have a new winery completely dedicated to Mandrarossasays Giuseppe Bursi, President of Cantine Settesoli since 2017 – a sustainable building that is well integrated in the environment, which allows us to increase the perception of our brand. We want to refute the cliché that a cooperative cannot make quality wines: not only are we convinced of the opposite, but we want to prove it. We are one of the most important European wine cooperatives, exporting to over 40 countries around the world, including the United States and Japan: we can guarantee consumers high quality at the right price”.

Circular economy and sustainable development

Cantine Settesoli produces quality wines with a strong territorial identity, including organic ones, and is a model of ethical management of the winery, considered as a community, an economic and social point of reference for the entire territory. This ensures full sustainability: thanks to the cooperative, 5,000 families spread over nine municipalities and three provinces can work with the prospect of a brighter future. Within the cooperative, the idea of sustainable development is a cultural embodiment that must be accepted, wholly shared and practiced by each member, starting with the agricultural management of the territory. 

New techniques for managing work in the vineyard – such as integrated pest management, conservative pruning using the Simonit & Sirch method – and the use of local resources (98% of the total) are essential to maximize the quality of the grapes while respecting the environment. Based on the data collected from the vineyards by EnoGis – a computerized agronomic system that uses instrument shelters – members are issued weekly bulletins that inform them in case specific operations needed to be carried out. This makes it possible to monitor outbreaks of downy mildew, be prepared for critical climatic conditions, and control grape harvesters and the pace of their work.

Organic, a cultural development for the future

A forerunner in the organic movement and the first cooperative winery to obtain the Viva certification for sustainable wines, Cantine Settesoli was among the first to join the British Retail Consortium and EU Organic. Out of the total 6,000 hectares, 908 undergo organic management: this is proof of the growing awareness and attention of producers who quit using systemic and synthetic products. Constant work in this direction has yielded Jummare, a line of exclusively organic wines. Agronomic and technical assistance reaches all 140 members of this organic movement, strengthening the set of skills with five agronomists who are also supported by external consultants.

Cooperation as a model for the new generations Cantine Settesoli is a cooperative based on sound principles of solidarity, supporting and actively involving the new generations in a modern organization of the territory and countryside work.

“Just as our parents laid the foundations for the economic development of this portion of south-western Sicily – states President Bursi – our duty is to not compromise the future of our youth. We must work to ensure that current sustainable practices are the foundation of future strategies for creating and protecting a healthy natural, economic and social environment. Thus, we encourage our youth to not leave Sicily, offering them a cultural and organizational prospect where they can move, create and live. Because the land is what really matters to us: it is our treasure and the fount of our experience and value”.