The Stianti Mascheroni family is committed to organic farming at the Prelius estate. These efforts are aided by both nature and man. Mother Nature does her part by providing continual breezes throughout the day and night, which keep humidity at bay, preventing fungus and mold. Insect pests are controlled by an innovative natural technique referred to as sexual confusion, which is accomplished by releasing pheromones to confuse the males, who then cannot locate females and reproduce. And, all fertilization is achieved with organic manure.
A mere five kilometers (just over three miles) from the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Prelius vineyard sits on a cornice under the historic Castellaccio di Prile, one of the region’s early protective fortresses. The vineyard elevation ranges from 37 to 52 meters (120 to 170 feet) with a slope just shy of 5 percent.
The 12 hectares (29.7 acres) of vines on the estate were planted between 2001 and 2005 to Cabernet Sauvignon (6.35 hectares or 15.7 acres), Sangiovese (2 hectares or 5 acres), Vermentino (2.1 hectares or 5.1 acres), Merlot (1.05 hectares or 2.6 acres) and Cabernet Franc (0.5 hectare or 1.3 acres). The tightly spaced rows are approximately 4 feet apart with 3 feet between vines, resulting in 8,649 to 9,884 vines per hectare (3,500 to 4,000 vines per acre). Row orientation is northwest to southeast. The vines are trained using a modified Guyot system. A drip system provides irrigation from a reservoir on the estate.
The reddish-orange alluvial soil on the Prelius estate, rich in sand and gravel, is the result of centuries of glacial melting, changing river directions, floods and high winds. These natural acts have delivered sandstone from the nearby maritime hills, which has mixed with the deep, loose sand of the coastline to create well-draining soil.
Due to the tight spacing of the rows, all pruning is completed by hand. While pruning, the vineyard staff walks the vineyards pushing a steel lorry in which they burn clippings. Once burned, the ash is returned to the ground through small holes in the lorry, providing nutrients to the soil.
Vermentino grapes and a small portion of red grapes, which will be used for the estate’s signature blend, CastelPrile, are harvested by hand. The remaining red grapes are harvested using a Bobard tractor, which allows the grapes to be harvested quickly — the heat of the Maremma can push a grape at its peak ripeness to overripe in a single day.
Prelius practices organic farming certified by the EU.
To offset CO2 emissions at the winery, Prelius works with LifeGate, a global organization which equalizes the CO2 emissions by replanting forests in Madagascar. Prelius received from LifeGate the “Impatto Zero,” or “Zero Impact,” certification which is recognized by the EU.Download (PDF)