Delicata’s army of vignerons had harvested the grapes from over 650 vineyards throughout the islands of Malta and Gozo by the end of last month,.
Three hundred and twenty-eight of these vineyards are planted with international grape varieties (the remainder with Girgentina and Gellewza) controlled by Delicata’s viticultural team under its ‘Vines for Wines’ project, which was established in 1994.
The Cini family (mother and son, Jane and Silvio) are part of this project with their 24 tumoli vineyard planted with over 13,000 vines of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Merlot.
The very best equipment and vines have been used to set up this vineyard i.e., wooden poles, stainless steel wires, drip irrigation, the best American rootstocks and exclusive Delicata clonal selections. Last week, Delicata invited Minister George Pullicino and the media to celebrate the end of harvesting of the Merlot grapes, with a ‘vendemmia banquet’ prepared by Silvio Cini for the grape pickers and a few VIPs.
Nearly 12 years ago when Delicata formalised this unique viticultural scheme, it was a ‘lone voice’ in the wine industry. Today, Delicata’s realistic plan for growing wine grapes in Malta and Gozo has been realized; it is no longer an idea, it is up and running, and running fast!
The 328 Delicata vineyards now cover 1240 tumoli (140 hectares) of land, growing 752,000 vines, which will make approximately 1,500,000 bottles of quality ‘Malta grown’ wine.
When Delicata launched its scheme 12 years ago the government’s Wine Advisory Board was sceptical and did not believe that the wine industry could grow grapes via the farming community. Delicata proved that was not the case through its Vines for Wine project, and today some of the islands most experienced and skilled vignerons form part of it. It is not just 328 vineyards that have been planted, but 328 vignerons have been created, thanks to this Delicata initiative.
Just prior to EU accession, wine was chosen as one of the islands strategic crops for agricultural development and the subsidies given by the government of Lm480 per tumoli has helped enormously as more and more vineyards are being planted.
This year alone Delicata planted 400 tumoli in 150 vineyards.
Delicata is a winemaker that produces four million bottles of wine a year and it is V. George Delicata’s wish that they are all made from Maltese-grapes and with their 650 vineyards they are already half way there!
There is a revitalized feeling regarding the culture of wine in Malta, both in the wine bars and with the consumer, but consumption is still very low, just over half that of Italy and France.
There is still a long way to go and the farmers are on a steep learning curve. There are benefits for the farmers and their families, the environment in general, the tourist industry and all wine consumers, and the proof of the pudding is in the eating, or in this case the drinking.