Preparing for a zero-emissions vintage

Italian wine producer Fontanafredda is pushing its commitment to sustainability by aiming to release the world’s first zero-emissions Barolo from the coming vintage…


One of the New Holland TK Methane Power crawler vineyard tractors working towards a zero-emissions vintage at Barolo producer Fontanafredda

Preparing for a zero-emissions vintage
  • Chris Boiling
  • 2021-03-09
‘A tomorrow that is like today is unthinkable’
Two new biomethane-fuelled crawler tractors have started working in the vineyards of Barolo producer Fontanafredda.
Fontanafredda, the historic winery connected to the first King of Italy, is aiming for a zero-emissions vintage for its flagship wine, Vigna La Rosa, when it releases the 2021 vintage in 2025.
Two New Holland TK Methane Power crawler vineyard tractors are needed to cover the 120ha organically-farmed property in the Langhe region.
Their first job was fertilising the historic vineyard, on land given to the humble daughter of a drum major, Rosa Vercellana, to show the king’s love for her. The couple went on to have two children – Maria Vittoria and Emanuele Alberto, with Emanuele founding the winegrowing estate and putting the name of Barolo on course for international fame.
At the end of this month the new tractors will be used to mow the grass of the Vigna La Rosa cru, which produces the grapes for Fontanafredda’s acclaimed Barolo.
The tractors from FPT Industrial, part of the Italian-American agricultural and construction equipment manufacturer CNH Industrial NV, are powered by compact, productive and environment-friendly F28 engines which are able to operate on diesel or natural gas and are hybrid-ready.

Fontanafredda tractor 1
The biomethane model designed for Fontanafredda was developed on the basis of a New Holland Agriculture crawler vineyard tractor. It can provide a power output of 75hp with peak torque of 330Nm – equivalent to that of its diesel counterpart, even when working on the steepest slopes and on the slippery terrain typical of vineyards in the Langhe region. This is all with a zero-carbon footprint, as the biomethane that powers the engine is produced by the anaerobic digestion of agricultural waste.

'Greening up'

The tractors are the latest part of Fontanafredda’s Green Renaissance project, which promotes best-practice grape cultivation with no environmental impact. Fontanafredda launched the project last year with the goal of “creating a great global community, united around respect for the land and people”.
These values have led to the “greening” of all daily procedures, from the reuse of water to the choice of healthy, natural, eco-friendly packaging, and the use of clean energy for the village inside Fontanafredda’s farmstead.
The village, which is home to a cultural foundation, two hotels and three restaurants, already uses electric forklifts and, by 2022, will get its energy from renewable sources.
Now, mobility in the vineyard has also become sustainable. The arrival of the biomethane-fuelled tractors at the beginning of the month will enable Fontanafredda to cut vineyard emissions to zero and make growing operations at its estate in Serralunga d’Alba even more eco-friendly.
Commenting on the three-year partnership with Fontanafredda, FPT Industrial CEO Annalisa Stupenengo said: “Getting to grips with the needs of the prestigious, delicate, sustainable top-quality wine-growing sector is a very exciting challenge for us. In fact, the partnership with Fontanafredda will enable us to again demonstrate our full support for the European Union as it guides the green transition. Our biomethane engines are as efficient and high-performing as diesels, and this renewable, sustainable fuel is the real, immediately available alternative for eliminating emissions from agricultural vehicles.”

'We have to care for our wonderful land'
Fontanafredda’s Andrea Farinetti commented: “We have the great good fortune to live in a unique part of the world, and we have to care for our wonderful land. We need a new Renaissance; a tomorrow that is like today is unthinkable. Obviously, we have to change and renew ourselves. For us, this renewal means making our land central to everything we do; this must be our overriding aim and must lead to the creation of a great worldwide community, based on trust in others. This community will have many tools at its disposal for safeguarding our planet: ours will be wine, ‘green’ wine. Our partnership with FPT Industrial proves that together we can do more, and do it better.”
Alberto Cirio, president of the Piedmont Region, said: “The fact that in Piedmont we will be able to have an excellent wine that does not generate consumption from an environmental point of view will have a distinctive and increasingly recognised value in the future. We are talking about the environment but also about ethics: we would like to nominate Piedmont as a symbolic region of the ethical product and it is essential that there are realities such as FPT Industrial and Fontanafredda to lead the way.”

Fontanafredda tractor 2

The F28 engine

  • Displacement: 2.8 litres
  • 4 cylinders and 2 valves
  • Maximum power output 75hp (55kW)
  • Stoichiometric combustion technology and multipoint injection to guarantee excellent performance and very low emissions
  • Designed without EGR and with a maintenance-free three-way catalytic converter (without DPF or SCR)
  • Sustainable solution that guarantees a virtually zero carbon footprint when powered by biomethane

Fontanafredda vista

Fontanafredda’s Green Renaissance

Fontanafredda has been committed to environmental sustainability since 2008, when Oscar Farinetti and Luca Baffigo bought the estate and switched back to organic farming in the vineyards and using native yeasts in the cellar.
Its Green Renaissance involves:

  • Re-using water collected in the lake and purified with the help of the plant purification system in the village.
  • Using more sustainable packaging. From the glass, which is 85% recycled, to its recyclable and sustainable corks, to its FSC- and PEFC-certified labels and cardboard.
  • Reducing the impact of sulphur dioxide in wines.
In the vineyard, it means 'controlled grassing', completely abandoning the use of synthetic fertilisers and herbicides, and making Fontanafredda an organically certified bionatural reserve.

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