After an unsatisfactory season, it usually happens. However, this time the phenomenon we are dealing with is different and rather dramatic. In recent weeks, in the Italian region of Apulia (and beyond), dozens of hectares of seed-bearing grapes are being uprooted, first of all of the Italia variety, a well-known cultivar with a typical Muscat flavor, which for many years has represented the history and richness of grapes in this region.
Cut vines of grapes of the Italia variety (photo dated 24 March 2023)
After a difficult season with disappointing sales and very low prices, especially for the traditional varieties, some growers have decided to replace the area of grapes with pips with seedless varieties. But not everyone harvests the plots and then plants seedless grapes on them. We spoke with a grower from Bari with about 10 acres, who has just uprooted two thousand Italia plants (about 1.5 acres) in the municipality of Rutigliano.
"Now only the root system of the plants has to be pulled out of the ground. We are on the waiting list with a specialized company, given the high demand for small excavators. In our area alone, 200 hectares of traditional grape varieties have been uprooted so far. I removed a 20-year-old vineyard. That one was not so young anymore but was still potentially profitable. These are grapes that we struggled to sell to wineries a few months ago at €0.10 cents per kilo, with the harvest at my expense. It's really unfortunate that the market prefers another grape variety."
The grower explains that the cleared plots will remain uncultivated for now. "We first want to better understand consumer preferences, which are still unclear. After all, pitted grapes from overseas are still being sold in the supermarket."
A fair percentage of Apulia's crop consists of the Italia variety. "For many companies, the Italia grape is still the flagship variety. It is a variety with which has allowed us to stand out Europe-wide and has given a strong boost to the regional economy. For next season I still have 2 acres of this wonderful variety. I still want to believe in it. And who knows, maybe in the end it will turn out that my decision, which was motivated by despair and commercial uncertainty, may not have been the right one."