What do you think of when you think about the problems that the Italian wine industry faces.
For many, the main problems come with the competition that arises from other countries. While this is certainly friendly in nature, there’s no denying that there is a competition between Italy and its contemporaries to grow its industry in new regions. The recent international expansion into China and India shows that Italy wants to reach into new areas. But increased competition from France and other countries may slow this process down.
Simply put, other nations’ wine industries can have a direct effect on the Italian wine industry.
Other challenges relate to climate change. The strange weather that we’ve had throughout 2017 and 2018 can have massive ramifications for a vineyard. A late frost can prevent vines from sprouting when they’re supposed to, while other unexpected weather conditions can also cause problems. Too much sun, too little water, and any number of other problems come from climate change. Adapting to slow changes in the seasons seems to be one of the many challenges that the Italian wine industry faces in the modern age.
But now, we’re going to present a problem that you may not have considered.
You see, where there are farms, there are also wild animals.
The Deer and Boar Problem
When we say the word pest, the mind instantly goes to smaller creatures that can cause damage to vines.
Insects, for example, are pests. And they’re more that capable of destroying a crop if left undealt with. Larger pests may include rats and mice. But the general rule is that a pest is something small that can cause devastation in large enough numbers.
But the simple fact of the matter is that deer and boars have become pests for the Italian wine industry.
You wouldn’t normally think of this animals as pests. In fact, the deer has a majestic quality to it that has been immortalised in films throughout the decades.
While not as attractive as its co-pest, the wild boar it also not an animal that you’d think would cause a problem for the industry. In fact, they’re more well-known for their ability to sniff out wild truffles than they are for their propensity to destroy winemakers’ crops.
Yet that’s exactly what both of these creatures have been doing for a number of years now. And the problem has become large enough for the Italian wine industry to call for some pretty severe measures.
The Chianti Region’s Problems
Even those who know little about the Italian wine industry have usually heard of Chinati. It’s one of those wines, along with Champagne and Bordeaux, that has perhaps surpassed the industry itself and developed a renown that far outweighs many of its contemporaries.
Yet it is in the Chianti region that boars and deer cause so many problems. For the last few years, winemakers have seen these animals, which seem to grow in population by the month, invading their vineyards and destroying their crops.
You see, both boar and deer are herbivores by nature and there are few things that they like the taste of more than the sweet fruit that comes from the vine. With so many vineyards in the region, the animals are almost spoiled for choice. Moreover, they’re large enough, and in some cases old enough, to encroach on a vineyard without any regard for the people who may be working on it.
The damage has been so severe that Chianti producers genuinely fear for the safety of their crops and the production of their wines.
That’s why many producers in the Chinati Classico region have backed calls for a cull of the animals, in the wake of the crop destruction. This wouldn’t be a small cull either. In fact, the proposal suggests the destruction of up to 90% of the local wild board and deer population.
Why is the Population So Large?
In days gone by, the boars and deer did not cause a problem for the region. While they certainly existed in the region, they didn’t cause the widespread damage that they do today. In fact, you were more likely to see them in a wildlife documentary than you were in the wild.
But time has changed all of that. A lack of natural predators for either animal in the region has led to an uninterrupted period of population growth. They’re free to feed and multiply to their hearts content, and have likely grown emboldened by their safe conditions.
The population has exploded because nature has, frankly, taken its course. However, the wine industry in the region will also have played a part. The fact that there are so many vineyards around means that these animals always have access to food. Moreover, they don’t have to travel too far to find it.
It’s perhaps no coincidence that the continued growth of the Italian wine industry has happened alongside the continued growth of these wild animals.
The Final Word
A cull of this magnitude is sure to earn the ire of many. Animal rights groups, in particularly, have already called foul on the proposals. They believe that wine producers don’t have the right to kill these animals, especially if it is the case that the producers’ own work has played a part in helping their numbers to grow in the fashion that they have.
Interestingly, opposition has also come from the opposite side of the spectrum. Hunters would find it much more difficult to locate wild boar and deer if there was a cull. It seems that an issue that has united the local wine industry but has divided many outside of it.
And yet something must be done about the wild animal population if the Chinati region is to continue thriving. If there’s no intervention of some description, the population will keep growing. Some producers have started to put up fences. But that’s a costly solution, especially for those who maintain hundreds of acres of vineyards.
The strange fact is that this deer and boar issue presents as much of a problem for the wine industry as some of the major issues mentioned at the top of the article.