ARRIVED IN THE MEDITERRANEAN WITH THE GREEKS, THEN IMPROVED BY THE ROMANS
Latin agronomists, in planting systems of woody plants, often favoured quincunx. They believed that this pattern was the best way to arrange this type of plant. This layout meets various requirements and needs: order (counting of trees), economy of space (the plants are close enough to make the most of the available land, but not so close as to interfere with each other), and aesthetic vision. The trees planted in quincunx rows have a beautiful appearance given by their symmetry. Moreover, the quincunx system is a harmonic system.
In the case of the Etnean Alberello vine planted in quincunx, there is another harmony, due to the fact that it is symmetrical and independent of the irregularity found in the mountain terraces, which are necessary for the cultivation of the vine in an area characterized by a particular type of terrain and sandy-volcanic soil. A typical Etnean Alberello vineyard is made up of numerous terraces, irregular forms and variables, which gradually move up the Volcano – however, we do not notice the land’s irregularity if we concentrate only on the vines with their chestnut posts.
The Alberello vineyard, with chestnut posts, is regulated by an optimal balance, as each vine is located at the top of an equilateral triangle with regular equidistance between each vine. The vines cultivated with the traditional Alberello system force the plant to carry out its root activity at a greater depth and thus take advantage of the mineral constituents found in the deeper layers of the soil.
In the Alberello vineyard, there is the highest root/leaf ratio. The homogeneity and symmetry of space in the ground, the processing, as well as the non-contribution of unnecessary artificial irrigation water, induces the plant to its own autonomy and to a balance that over time is less and less affected by sudden external climatic changes, drastic tillage or inadequate fertilization. The Alberello, precisely because of the equidistance between the vines and their height, which almost completely excludes the shading between plant and plant, allows for maximum exposure to direct and indirect sunlight, coming from the refraction of the ground.
An ideal vineyard must have a vegetative-productive structure which, with the minimum contribution of external products, shows a high predisposition to the accumulation and expression of territorial characteristics, also known as terroir. This is equivalent to having a vineyard with the maximum stability of the system over time and the lowest possible energy input to keep it in production. The Alberello vineyard responds perfectly to these qualitative requirements.
THE NAME ALBERELLO DERIVES FROM THE SHAPE THAT THE VINE PLANT TAKES ON DURING THE PRODUCTION PHASE
The Alberello of Mt. Etna is “ethics, beauty, excellence”
– Salvo Foti