Next time you’re looking at a vineyard, take your eyes off the grapes for a moment and look at the ground between the vines. What do you see? If you see a rigorous assortment of plants growing there, it’s a good thing!
Dievole’s agronomist, Lorenzo Bernini, explains what plants we see here and why. “Our philosophy is to regenerate the earth, to increase its physical and chemical fertility in a natural way in order to encourage a more vigorous growth of flora and fauna.”
How do we do this? Right after the grape harvest, we go in and work the earth between the vines in an important and very deep process. Piercing the earth to about 60cm down, we oxygenate without turning the earth. This favours the activity of the roots of the vines, as well as creating happy microflora and microfauna.
After the oxygenation process, in October, we plant a variety of seeds between the vines. We’re still experimenting to find out which plants are best for our particular terrain. These plants include:
Facelia: This pretty purple flower, commonly called purple tansy, attracts bees. This increases bio-diversity as well as cross-pollination.
Mustard: this plant has deep roots that help lend structure to the terrain; as with all plants, it helps avoid soil erosion.
Trifolium incarnatum: Known in English as Crimson Clover or Italian clover, its oval-shaped leaves grow in threes. It produces beautiful red flowers throughout the summer. Being a legume, it enriches the soil with nitrogen.
Field Bean (favino): The Latin name of this little bean is Vicia faba minor L., and it’s a variety of the edible bean. In our fields its function is to enrich the soil with nitrogen.
While these are the seeds we’ve planted, the terrain is so fertile that other seeds often take hold, and we’re happy to welcome them! On a recent visit between the vines we photographed a number of other little plants with different coloured flowers which Lorenzo says are an indication that “we’re working in the right direction!”
At the end of April, we go through and mulch the plants, leaving them on the surface in order to not be invasive – we don’t want to expose any microorganisms or any of our nutritive earth. The mulched plant material provides an excellent organic fertilizer for our vines.
All in all, as Lorenzo explains: “We want to create a favourable habitat for our vines, seeking a perfect balance through earth that is not compact but rather vital with nutrients and oxygen. This lets our vines create deep roots in the best possible expression of our terroir.”