This article on agriculture, climate change and harvest choices comes out from a chat with Francesco Falcone, whom I thank for his precious support.
[The picture shows the vineyard Microcosmo, where a dangerous arson was set yesterday by unknown criminals]
My nineteenth harvest started a few days ago. It has not been a lifetime since I became a winegrower, but still it is a good amount of time.
When I made the choice to devote myself entirely to agriculture and winemaking, I expected I should feel more self-confident, more positive with my choices, and serene in my decisions throughout time.
At the very beginning, while struggling among many doubts and insecurities, I thought that after a certain number of harvests (and years of planting, pruning, growing, and picking) I would eventually conquer the confidence of the craftsman. The one who masters his art, who gets to know the raw material to the point of being able to work almost by heart. As if it was a matter of learning, and remembering, and repeating, and getting better.
Instead, the more the time flows, the less I can rely on my memories, or my experience. On the contrary, instinct, sensitivity, and the spirit of adaptation seem to be a lot more useful.
The fact is, adapting to massive changes that are never progressive, or linear, is very complicated: we barely experience a new situation and immediately its evolution takes us farther than we expect. History is missing, experience is lacking, and everything is dramatically, dangerously new.
The macroscopic effects of climate change are more and more alarming, and wounds that have always been open are getting worse every year. I can describe this situation in Menfi with just one word: drought. Drought is radically prolonged today, and is now paradoxically followed by violent floods. The water that seems to recoil, hiding for endless months, drying us out, suddenly explodes with unprecedented fury, dragging away all our attempts to discipline its course.
In the summer, we must defend our vines from dehydration and our grapes from sunburns, to which human madness and criminal stupidity often adds the disgrace of arsons. In the winter, we must save the vineyards from radical asphyxia, the soils flooded with the rainfall that pours unceasingly from the steep gorges and ravines once cultivated, and now abandoned by the peasants' children and grandchildren – who long since moved to the city and left them to sloppy tenants, or to abusive pasture.
We abandon our countryside because agriculture hardly makes you a living, unless we consider the Earth a simple means of production to be squeezed to the last drop of energy, and thus we guiltily lose interest in our environment, creating metastases of which we are dangerously underestimating the magnitude.