«The elderly here in the village are worried: such a drought they can’t remember ever having seen». From Castellinaldo, Fabio Marchisio thus photographs the situation. «We were hoping for the expected rain last weekend. At least 40 millimeters of water was expected. Instead, only 16 fell, according to our detection probes». It’s starting to get scary, the drought in Piedmont: especially thinking about the 2023 grape harvest. Little winter snow, little spring rain. Alpine basins reduced by 50 percent. And the region is forced to run for cover: it has launched a special plan, concerted with the government, to modernize water networks. Objective: to reduce leakage. It also aims to create, in record time, new reservoirs for irrigation.

The matter is serious, unfortunately. Especially in the Roero. «The extraordinary drought of summer 2022 had already weighed heavily on us, after the hail that fell the year before». Vineyards under stress, for too many months. «Of course, ours are robust vines: organic and biodynamic». In fact, the quality is always exceptional, year after year. The only handicap, of late: the limited quantity of the harvest. Due to the climate, which is increasingly torrid and dry. «Let’s tell the truth: to get everything back on track it would have to rain, gently and continuously, for a whole month: 100 millimeters of water would have to fall, on our vineyards».

On the other hand, as of this year, rescue irrigation for vineyards is also authorized in Piedmont. «The trouble – says Fabio – is that there is a shortage of water sources to draw from: wells are at 20 percent. It means that by pumping water from underground to spray the rows with cisterns, out of 22 hectares planted with vines, we wouldn’t get enough irrigation for even one». That still leaves the aqueduct. «But only in theory: because, if we really used drinking water, in August the families of Castellinaldo would stay dry».

Big problem. The figures themselves speak: «Since January 1, just 40 millimeters of rain have fallen on our hills. Last year, on the other hand, there had been 270, thanks to winter precipitation». Glimmers? Yes, one: «However, the last rain has cooled the weather and restored some momentum to the thirsty shoots. Next week, in fact, we will begin the first green pruning. With one great hope, however: that it will finally decide to rain. But for real».

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