High Quality Wine from Cooperative Cellars!
For the month of February, the Italian Food, Wine and Travel blogger group – #ItalianFWT – will be taking a look at the high quality available at some of – many of – the cooperative cellars that dot the Italian wine landscape. And you are invited to participate! Details are to be found at the end of this post.
What is a Cooperative Cellar?
A cooperative in wine is like a cooperative in any other industry. Essentially, it is a company that is owned collectively by its members. In this case, the members are usually grape growers. Grape growers that don’t want to make and market their own wines either sell their grapes to a private company or to the local cooperative.
Cooperatives can be huge, with thousands of members and producing millions of bottles of wine – or they can be small, with just a few dozen growers and limited production.
Why a Cooperative?
Italy is one of the world’s great wine-producing nations, with the fourth-largest surface area under vine worldwide. That being said, the average size of a single grape grower is tiny – just a few hectares. It would be impossible for so many small operators to make their own wine and survive. So, often they get together in order to increase their effective size.
It is no secret that there are tremendous advantages to be had from pooling raw material, resources and know-how, allowing the purchasing of better machinery, the hiring of winemaking experts and other important personnel, paying for joint marketing and gaining better access to markets.
The cooperative is a cornerstone of the wine world, and Italy is no exception. In fact, about 50% of Italy’s wine production flows from cooperative cellars, and there are nearly 500 of them in the country. They are found wherever vines grow. Nevertheless, there are vast differences in quality, with clear regional differences emerging. To be blunt, the north of the country generally is known for better quality than the south – though there are many, many exceptions to the rule.
It is the bugaboo of the cooperative, and rightly so. When only greed or politics are at play, quality suffers. Many cooperatives produce substandard wines from poor grapes, selling them for next to nothing. This damages the wine industry and, ultimately, the farmers themselves.
But there are great cooperatives doing outstanding work – more now than ever before, as EU subsidies dry up and the cellars, themselves, need to be commercially viable. And that is the reason for this month’s topic! Since there are many cooperative cellars in Italy making excellent wines – sometimes even unique wines – it is going to be exciting to look at some of them and discover some great wines.
What are we doing?
We are focusing on cooperative cellars offering high quality wines – and the foods that go well with the wines that we have chosen. There will be blog articles and a twitter chat on Saturday, February 1st , as well as a fair bit of social media activity. In the week following the Twitter chat, we will check out and comment on each others’ articles.
How to participate?
If you are a blogger or otherwise writing about wine, we’d love to have you take part! Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest. You will need to:
- get me the title of your article as soon as possible, but please not later than Friday, January 31st – I will be preparing a mailout including all the titles with links for inclusion on each participant’s post
- post the article itself sometime on the 31st of January or the 1st of February
- include links to the other #ItalianFWT participants in your post, with a brief description of what the event is about
- if you have time, participate in the twitter chat that will take place at 16.00 GMT on Saturday, February 1st. The questions for the Twitter chat will be made available in the next couple of days, so you can schedule your answers of you cannot participate live
- get out there on your social media and publicise what’s going on!
Social media tags should include #ItalianFWT so that we can all see what each other is doing – and it is essential for the twitter chat.
Looking forward to seeing you – and your writing – at the event!