Sustainable Wine: What All the Buzz Is About

Lorein Abenhaim

Marco-2Marco Caprai wants to put both Umbria and sustainable winemaking on the map with his winery Arnaldo Caprai. The winery was named “European Winery of the Year” at “Wine Enthusiast’s” 2012 Wine Star Awards for a reason.
We chatted with Caprai, in New York City promoting Sagrantino di Montefalco, one of his vineyard’s more famous wines with a series of events at the famed Il Buco, about his love of wine and promoting sustainability.
Caprai’s father began cultivating wine as a hobby, scooping up the Umbrian vineyard in the 1970s. Caprai chose not to go into the family textile business and instead to pursue wine, full time. He advanced his passion studying and experimenting on grapes solely found in Umbria.
“It’s a great enterprise… 25 years ago I decided that I love wine,” Caprai said. “My father bought the winery in 1971, but I’ve been running the winery since 1987.”
He spoke about his favorite wines, recommending casual wine drinkers to try Grecante Grechetto, a white wine meant for everyday drinking. He also suggested his famed red wine, Sagrantino, as a bold choice to go well with heavy meat plates. For Caprai, Sagrantino is a taste of the rootstock of Umbria.
While passionate about wine, Caprai also pays mind to climate change and the affects global warming has on cultivating grapes. Committed to implementing a sustainable vineyard, he heads a group of seven Italian winery owners creating a model of wine with zero carbon emissions they aim to present at the wine expo in Milan in 2015.
What is sustainable winemaking exactly? The concept is that the product has been made in a way that will allow the vineyards and environment to continue to produce an undiminished product continuously. The main threats to sustainability are issues of soil depletion, erosion, water pollution, loss of biodiversity, ecological impacts, resistance to pests, and chemical dependence.
“This is the future of the [winemaking] activity, because we preserve the area for the future but also we preserve our economic activity… but the environment is fundamental, it’s what’s basic,” Caprai said.
Sustainable vineyards are a fairly new concept. Caprai hopes that over the years it becomes easier and the norm to reduce carbon emissions from winemaking. While that idea seems lofty in the foreseeable future, Caprai is dedicated to making it a reality in the coming years.
For the night though he put that endeavor aside. Instead he focused on mingling with his guests and getting tipsy off his favorite wine, his own.