UNESCO Adds Piedmont Wine Regions to World Heritage List

Barolo, Barbaresco, Nizza Monferrato and Barbera among areas cited by U.N.
Jun 27, 2014

The heart of Piedmont is one of the newest United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage List sites. The recognized area, roughly 25,000 acres, includes Barolo, Barbaresco, Nizza Monferrato and Barbera, the “infernots” of Monferrato, Canelli and Moscato d’Asti and the castle of Grinzane Cavour.

“It was a fantastic moment, with lots of emotion,” said Pietro Ratti, president of the Consorzio di Tutela Barolo Barbaresco Alba Langhe e Roero, who was part of the delegation accepting the award in Doha, Qatar. “I think this UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition will give more prestige to an area and wines which are already very well-known and loved by many people.”

The nomination process officially began in 2006, backed by the Piedmont region and the provinces of Asti, Alessandria and Cuneo, where the vineyards are located. It was officially presented to UNESCO in 2011 and subsequently resubmitted with modifications in 2013.

“It has been a long process,” admitted Ratti. “The original area was much bigger. The inspectors of UNESCO suggested reducing the core zone to the six areas with the very top sites with the best hills and vineyards. The remaining area is considered as a buffer zone.”

Officially called “The Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato,” the area received cultural landscape recognition for its combination of natural and man-made significance. An association founded by the four provinces and the Piedmont region was created to manage the site and coordinate all the activities. An additional 75 municipalities have since joined the association since its inception.

Braida, a leading Barbera producer in the Asti region, owns vineyards in some of the communes designated as the World Heritage Site. “We are proud of these achievements and are sure it will support all the efforts done to create and protect the beauty of the landscape, resulting in even better and more sustainable vine growing,” said Norbert Reinisch, Braida’s export director. “Hopefully it will protect the great sites, known as bricco, sori or suri, from speculative construction in the future.”

The recognition is expected to benefit the area both economically and agriculturally. “Experiences from other UNESCO areas tell of an increase in tourism of about 30 percent in the first five years,” said Luciano Bertello, president of Enoteca del Roero. “Certainly there will be very specific constraints, but rather than affect it will in fact give value to the viticulture. This recognition will further encourage responsibility among the producers of grapes and wine to act as main custodians of the territory.”

With this year's 26 additions, there are now 1,007 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, from 161 countries around the world. UNESCO encourages the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage. Italy's 49 sites are the most of any country. To be chosen, an area must demonstrate a natural significance so outstanding to overcome national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations.

“It will be an incredible opportunity of promotion and protection of these fantastic hills,” added Ratti. At the same time, we have more responsibility to preserve it as it is now. We just have to remain as we are, as a stimulus to keep on doing our job well, as our fathers did and their fathers before them. This is the real spirit and essence of our land and this is the responsibility we have to pass to our children.”

Italy Piedmont News

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