Sustainability and sustainable travel are the topics on everyone’s lips, but nowhere is this approach implemented as resolutely and with such passion as at Castelfalfi in Tuscany. Sustainable holidays aren’t just a decorative label, but a credo to the 5-star hotel Il Castelfalfi, which has developed a sustainable holiday environment.
Wine, olive oil, grappa, bitters, and beer – all sustainable
A wine tasting is definitely one of the experiences you cannot miss in Tuscany. There are many large wineries in the region and the variety of fine wines is almost infinite, but only a few of them are dedicated to the sustainable management and care of their vineyards. The Tenuta di Castelfalfi, on the other hand, is different: none of the crops use pesticides or chemical products that could change the original quality of the product.
This is what Tenuta di Castelfalfi farmer Antonio tells me as he helps me discover Castelfalfi. The company produces not only wine, but also olive oil, grappa, bitters, and beer. Antonio reports that each plant needed to produce these products requires special treatment, in accordance with the regulations of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry, and Tourism. This represents a major effort, though it pays off in the long run when it comes to the taste of sustainably-grown products.
Sustainably produced, unique in taste
Antonio explains to me that the organic products from Castelfalfi have a unique, authentic taste in each vintage, which differs from the other vintages because no chemicals are used to ensure a constant standard. For example, every grape for wine production is harvested at the exact time of ripening and if a grape is not yet perfectly ripe, it will be picked later. In short, agricultural mindfulness is very high in Castelfalfi.
How do I tell the difference?
So I wonder how I, as a layperson, can recognise sustainable cultivation. The answer is simpler than you think: the fauna. Where there are no pesticides, bees, butterflies, birds, and many other animals are more active. Of course, this means that one or two grapes may disappear in the stomach of our animal friends. But that’s the beauty of the system – the entire ecosystem benefits from sustainable agriculture, and it simultaneously ensures an excellent product.
Sounds good, but how does it taste?
Of course, my trip to beautiful Tuscany shouldn’t be limited to chatting and observing. It’s high time to sample the delicious, natural Castelfalfi olive oil in a classic way: a drizzle of olive oil on bread (yum!). Antonio explains to me that some also add a little salt to refine the taste, or a few pieces of tomato. A simple but no less impressive pleasure.
Water, precious resource
The water consumption in Castelfalfi is relatively high because a large part of the surrounding area is used for agriculture. So I ask Antonio where this water comes from and whether the idea of sustainability also comes into play here. Antonio explains to me that irrigating over 25 hectares of vineyards and 10,000 olive plants is ecologically harmless because only rainwater is used. To do this, the tenuta collects the water all year round in artificial lakes and pumps it out when necessary. Many modern concepts are used in Castelfalfi, and organic food production is a return to the origins of agriculture.
Not only vineyards and olive groves
To ensure a clean environment and unpolluted air, the resort uses the same approaches to maintain the over 270 hectares of the golf course, which, in addition to the 27-hole course, also houses small forests and ponds. Numerous species make their homes here, mainly birds, which keep avid golfers company and even roost in more secluded locations.
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