When the cork on a bottle of spumante sparkling wine shoots into the air with a loud pop, it is evidence of the quality of the product. Sustainability is also a testament to quality and that is why it is part of company policy at VALDO Spumanti. The company, which was founded in 1926 in Valdobbiadene in the Venetian Prealps, has been producing spumante of the highest quality for almost a century in the cradle of DOCG classified Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore wines.
“Our company, which is the oldest spumante producer in Valdobbiadene, is owned by the Bolla family and the company president is Dr Pierluigi Bolla,” explains Gianfranco Zanon, technical director of Valdo Spumanti. “We are a company with deep roots in the local area and we are aware that we are working in a region of absolute excellence: our daily mantra is to protect the hills – which face the natural amphitheater that runs from Conegliano to Valdobbiadene and which is now a UNESCO Heritage site – and to take the Spumante DOCG that they give life to right to the top.”
That mantra, which expresses respect for places and people, is also inspiring the drive towards sustainability that in recent years has led the company to make a thorough examination of its production process and to identify possible ways to improve it. “For us sustainability begins with the vines,” continues Zanon. “We have some that we own outright, but mainly we work with dozens of local producers, who for three generations now have been supplying us with their grapes: for us they are without doubt our most important partners. A meaningful synergy has developed between us, one based on trust and loyalty and the sharing of choices in agronomy concerning sustainability, in order to achieve together the best possible grape quality, both from the perspective of workers’ health and of the final consumer. For 20 years now we have been providing education and training, and we share our guidelines with our producers: using pesticides in as targeted a way as possible and not scheduling their use according to the calendar but based on the plants’ actual requirements in each season; keeping a register of treatments; not removing weeds and fertilizing only when necessary. Even though this work isn’t directly visible in the final product, for us it has always been very important.”
In 2020, after having tried other forms of energy diagnoses, the company turned to Enel X for an evaluation of its Circularity.
“We had carried out an energy diagnosis a couple of years earlier with another energy company and as a result of that we decided to make some changes, replacing the cooling plant and the compressed air system. When the Consortium contacted us to propose this new evaluation we accepted immediately, to see where we were up to and whether those interventions had achieved the desired results.”
“The result of the Circular Economy Report took us by surprise,” continued Zanon. “Enel X took into consideration all the parameters that had previously been ignored, thereby giving us a deeper and more accurate picture of our productive process. I believe that every business with significant levels of energy consumption should ask for an evaluation of this type in order to understand itself better and to see where it can improve.”
The report analyzed the company’s historic winery, where the spumante gets its fizz and is bottled, assigning the facility a gratifying 53% initial circularity level. This score was based on the analysis of both the input phase (in terms of production materials, almost 100% recycled or recyclable and energy 100% from renewable production) and the end-of-life phase, in which around 100% of waste produced is redeployed in contexts outside of the company. After having positively evaluated the efficient use of materials and the quality of the energy used, the practice of widespread car sharing at company fleet level and the external communication of the company’s sustainability principles, the report moved on to analyzing the possible areas of intervention, suggesting where these could be worthwhile.
“The report suggested, for example, producing a corporate social responsibility document to obtain a more inward-looking examination and to find out in which direction we want to head. We did that and, in that way, began looking into what we use, from the label to the cork to the boxes to the communications material, in order to choose reusable, biodegradable and sustainable products. We also decided to follow through with the installation of 150kWp of photovoltaic panels at the new site in Via Capitello Ferrari, also as suggested in the report. For years, we have only purchased energy from renewable sources, paying our energy supplier a little bit extra in order to make our own small contribution to the environment. Self-production will certainly offer us an interesting saving. The Circular Economy Report also measured our water consumption, which at a winery can be substantial. We noticed that we could improve on that front, too, and we are implementing all of the actions necessary to reduce water consumption at our production sites by 5-10%. Moreover, the water that we use always has to be purified and this means further energy consumption. Therefore if we manage to optimize water consumption, we can make a double saving.”
Looking to the future, Spumanti VALDO, which has a turnover of around 64 million euros and produces around 120,000 hectoliters of spumanti a year (figures for 2020), has very clear ideas. It has always fostered a culture of excellence, existing in osmosis with the area of Conegliano Valdobbiadene, and views sustainability as a lodestar to follow, for everyone.
“For those who think that sustainability is a cost, I would like to share our experience,” says Zanon. “We replaced 25% of our current lighting with LEDs and in the coming months we count on continuing with the relamping of the entire facility. On balance, factoring in the purchase of the new lights, we expect to make savings of 15-20,000 euros a year on our energy bill. In 2022 we will review the long-term lease of our company vehicle fleet. Taking into consideration the indications in the Circular Economy Report, we will be assessing electric mobility, for which we already have 12 kW of charging infrastructure. Overall, these interventions will result in considerable economic advantages, even though we never viewed sustainability solely as an opportunity to make savings. For us it means attention to people and the local area and we are working towards this every day in many different ways, starting with differentiating our waste in our offices and the instruction not to print anything unless it is indispensable, providing ceramic cups for use during coffee breaks, and water flasks that we have provided to all the staff at VALDO, as well as water coolers and hot water dispensers that have replaced plastic bottles. The goal is to transmit and share our culture of sustainability one step at a time, first and foremost within our organization. Although in those cases it does not bring economic benefits, our goal is that all 62 staff at the company are aware of being ambassadors for sustainability and respect for the environment in which we live.”
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