The creation of Arancio and all of its facilities was done with the environment in mind. A large amount of time and resources were invested in not only creating the winery and all its vineyards from scratch, but to do so in such a way that they would have a minimized environmental impact. As a result, in 2002 Feudo Arancio was the first Italian Winery to receive the ECO Management and Audit Scheme 2 certification for the entire productive chain. Feudo Arancio assessed its initial environmental condition, drafted plans for environmental impact improvements and committed to an external auditing system that evaluates the results of these projects. This certification plays a large role in Arancio’s efforts to promote the image of grape growers and producers as guardians of the land instead of exploiters of the land. Prior to EMAS 2, Arancio’s environmental management system had been certified according to the internationally recognized set of requirements of UNI-EN-ISO 14001.
A fundamental part of our environmental impact plan is to limit the use of chemical treatments as much as possible. Alternative methods for combatting problems in the field were implemented. These methods include the correct use of copper and sulfur (also permitted in organic cultivation), the introduction of positive insects in the vineyard and the use of “sexual confusion,” a biological system used to fight against hazardous bugs by limiting their reproduction through pheromone over-stimulation. In addition, all plant waste is recycled as fertilizer, reducing the amount of commercial fertilizer used in the field.
Specific techniques are used to maximize the natural conditions of the vines to prevent disease and promote quality grape production. Close attention to the vine and vigilant pruning allow the grapes to be optimally ventilated and well-protected. Innovative irrigation systems maximize the use of water resources and guarantee that water arrives where it is needed most. Grass and indigenous plants are grown around the vines to prevent erosion in the winter and provide additional fertilization materials in the spring. As an extension of this concept native orchids, including some rare species, are cared for along the edges of the vineyards, helping to maintain the indigenous flora of the region. A lemon tree garden was also planted inside the surrounding mines, just recently restructured and reclaimed to its prime condition.
In addition, Arancio invested in two installations of solar panels (to produce hot water) and photoelectric panels. The energy of the sun is used to heat water to extremely high temperatures for the cleaning and sterilization of the winery. The photoelectric panels produce 150-200,000 kW/year, enough energy for 50-80 households of four for a year. Conversely, in order to maintain a cool temperature in the winery, half of the winery is constructed below ground level to take advantage of the natural cooling effect of the earth.
Water is a valuable resource in a hot climate such as Sicily, and Arancio constructed a water treatment system that stressed the ground water as little as possible. There are seven artificial reservoirs at our Sicilian holdings that contain 1 million liters (260,000 gallons) of water. As a supplement to rain and ground water, Arancio desalinates sea water through reverse osmosis to keep its reservoirs full. In order to preserve this water, all waste water is collected and cleaned through a micro organism-based filtration system and then returned to the reservoirs. A computerized drop irrigation system is used in the fields to efficiently provide water where it is needed and to prevent undesired run-off.
By maximizing the natural conditions and the efficiency of resources, Arancio has greatly limited its environmental impact and preserved regional resources.