Why did winemaker Gianni Cantele post this picture of himself with Cantele’s longtime vineyard manager Cataldo Ferrari and a horse?

It’s because the Cantele team has been using a horse-drawn plough to de-grass its vineyards this year.

Over the last decade, the Cantele family has been working toward a goal of 100 percent sustainable farming practices. Even though the Cantele winery isn’t organic certified, the majority of fruit used to make its wines is organically farmed — i.e., without the use of synthetic herbicides or pesticides. Even in those cases where synthetic products are used, they are applied as sparingly as possible. It’s a reflection of a growing movement of grape farmers in Italy and Europe who are practicing a new and novel approach to sustainability in the vineyards.

The Cantele family is currently working on a “manifesto” to describe its approach and why it feels this is the way forward in a future that will be evermore determined by climate change.

Using a horse-drawn plough to de-grass eliminates the need for herbicides — whether naturally derived or synthetic.

But it also helps to bolster sustainability in other ways as well.

For example, the weight of the horse doesn’t compact the soil the way a tractor would. The looser soil helps to foster biodiversity.

Of course, the horse will also leave something behind as it pass through the rows of vines. That manure will also help promote biodiversity!

In coming weeks, we’ll be looking very closely at sustainable practices at Cantele and why the Cantele family feels it’s so important to move in this direction.

Stay tuned!

From Gianni’s Facebook.