Despite the mood of crisis, Italy's producers eagerly applied for planting rights in 2020. Producers wanted 64,036 hectares, almost ten times the available quota of 6,722 hectares.
Since the EU rules on planting rights came into force in 2016, the focus of applications has completely shifted. In the first two years, around 70 percent of the requests came from just two regions, Veneto and Friuli, mainly due to the successful DOCs Prosecco, Delle Venezie and Valpolicella. From 2018, the rush for permits shifted to the south, to Puglia and Sicily. According to the trade journal Corriere Vinicolo, Puglia accounted for a full 44 percent (28,000 ha) of the quota in 2020 and Sicily for 21 percent (15,500 ha). "Despite the rules limiting the transfer of rights from one region to another, the market seems to be stronger than bureaucracy," states the Corriere Vinicolo.
Although demand from the northeast of Italy has fallen, vineyards in Veneto and Friuli have grown. Veneto will exceed 100,000 hectares in 2020 (+12 percent compared to 2016) and Friuli will be at 28,000 hectares (+13 percent). This growth includes rights acquired by producers within the first two years, those still in their possession and, above all, purchases made before there were restrictions on transfers between regions.
In the south, the situation is completely different. The strong demand from Sicily is countered by a two percent decline in vineyard area since 2016. In Puglia, the area under vines grew by three percent in the same period, but the explosion of applications since 2018 suggests that the interest is not solely due to Puglian producers, but also comes from the north.
Despite the rules blocking transfers, the mechanisms still seem to be working. "Out the door and back in through the window," is how the Corriere describes the producers'bypasses. The quickest and safest way to import planting rights from Sicily, for example, is to buy a planted area, i.e. one with planting rights, then clear it and replant it in the north. This can be done in the course of a year, usually by reselling the land to the original Sicilian owner. Sicily is preferred for the emigration of planting rights for economic reasons. There are plenty of cheap vineyards for sale, just don't look for them on Mount Etna. vc