11 November 2020

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Di Bella talks about how IRVO will change

sebastiano_di_bellaThe new president of the Sicilian body, the only one of its kind in Italy, explains the objectives for wine and oil.

“More involvement of companies in choices. Vinitaly? The department will continue to manage it, it has done a good job." And then research, a “fundamental asset. But we need more to interact with the entire Sicilian agri-food sector"


Clear ideas, with projects aimed at the future, but with eyes firmly focused on the present. Which appears less difficult than it was until some time ago, but which requires particular attention. He is Sebastiano Di Bella, new president of Irvo Sicilia, the regional wine and oil institute of Sicily. And this is already news, given that the institute has spent the last few years under a commissioner administration. And quite a few vicissitudes. Now the new course. Di Bella, wine producer and partner of a wine shop in Palermo, knows the world of wine well. But above all he also knows Sicilian politics and all its protagonists well, if only because he was general secretary of the Sicilian Regional Assembly. A leading role for the island's institutions. So what will Di Bella's Irvo look like? He immediately explains his four key points around which his "mission" revolves: research, experimentation, dissemination and promotion. “We are very clear about what we have to do and we will try to follow up on each of these four objectives – says Di Bella – but we have to do it little by little, because the economic resources are what they are and caution is needed”. The key word is sharing. And here's the idea: "We will involve various partners for each of the four projects, thus trying to optimize resources."

Among the experimental projects is that of zoning: “It was also discussed many years ago on Etna – says Di Bella – Professor Attilio Scienza was also involved. Then everything stopped. I believe that in the most advanced areas, not only from an oenological point of view, but also on the markets, and the Vulcano is precisely one of these areas, there is a truly great need". Di Bella has no doubts about the promotion: “Stop the maxi projects, they are not of interest to us at the moment – he says – My idea is to choose from one to three target countries, together with private individuals who may have interests in this sector, whether Europe, North America or Asia and concentrate maximum efforts on these. Maybe starting with just one." But there's more. “The Sicily brand is now recognized throughout the world for its excellence, not only in terms of wine – says the president – There is agri-food, there is culture, there is tourism. And so if all these sectors, instead of going their own way, all rowed in the same direction, we could think of presenting ourselves at the big fairs compactly, all together, obviously where this is also possible for a logistical reason. I think of wine, of course, but then of oil, cheese and agri-food production more generally".

There has not yet been any discussion about the next Vinitaly and what will change in the Sicily pavilion: “We haven't talked about it – says Di Bella – The Agriculture department has done well, I don't see any reason to change. I don't see an immediate involvement of Irvo as in the past. In any case we will take action to raise funds, which can no longer be just regional ones. Our skill now must be to intercept community resources. I think they are essential to give this institution a perspective."

Certification chapter. By now the issue of huge delays seems to be a bad episode left behind: “We are almost in line with what we had to do this year, over 85 percent of the work done – assures Di Bella -. In terms of response times, we are in the national average. Usually it takes 15 working days. I believe that our certification gives added value to Sicilian productions. We are a third party and therefore impartial." On the bands for the Doc Sicilia which will become mandatory in 2022 Di Bella knows that it is a new economic commitment for Irvo. You have to advance the sums to purchase them and then be reimbursed by the wineries. “It's a topic we know. A heavy commitment, of course, both in organizational and economic terms because the printing company wants at least part of them ordered and paid for in advance – says Di Bella – It is still too early to talk about it and in any case we will talk about it when defining the contract. If the cost of the cable ties must be advanced by Irvo, then the payments to our institute will also have to be made at the same time. In any case we will evaluate the cost-effectiveness criteria."

Contract renewed for another three years for the certification of denomination wines produced in Malta: “But we don't go around looking for customers to include in our portfolio – says Di Bella – We haven't asked ourselves this problem. We're just trying to make our certification even more efficient." Which therefore remains a reference asset for the life of the institution although the prospects, even in the short term, will highlight the need to strengthen the service. But Di Bella is ready to accept the challenge. Even with the same spirit of sharing with other partners as in the case of promotion? We will see. Then there is the oil chapter. “For us – says the president of Irvo – oil also has its central role. And not only because we certify the PGI Sicilia and the small PDO Valdemone. The prospects here are immense. There's a lot of work, we won't shy away from it." There is also a lot to do in research and Di Bella knows well the advantages it can bring to wine because he has experienced them as a producer. He is the owner of vineyards scattered between the province of Palermo in San Giuseppe Jato and in the Noto area. As president he cannot go too far, all vines are good for making great wines in Sicily, "because it is the territory that decides and the lesson of the French is unsurpassed", he says. However, he is still pleasantly amazed at what a vine like Catarratto grown at high altitudes can offer. And the confirmation that Sicily of wine still has a lot to say. And research can help a lot. And Irvo will have to do its part.

Today, Irvo boasts 54 employees plus a series of collaborators, who number around fifteen. It has three branch offices, in Marsale and Alcamo in the province of Trapani and Milazzo in the province of Messina.

 Article from: “Cronache di Gusto 05/11/2020”

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