The quality of wine. Chapter X

The vine season came to an end with the harvest and it was certainly one of the most difficult in my thirty-nine years as a vinegrower: a very mild winter and heavy rain from 25th July onwards and not a very good August and September. I picked the grapes in half of my vineyards on 30th September, but for the other half I waited until 5th October to take advantage of the good weather in October. The yield was about 11 quintals per hectare (therefore about 1/7 – yes, one seventh of the production allowed by the production regulations of Brunello, which allows 75 quintals of grapes per hectare).

This difficult vintage has taught me a lot and I would like to thank Professor Bruno Bagnoli, entomologist from the Università della Tuscia and Professor Daniele Trinchero of the Politecnico di Torino, who have started collaborating with Case Basse this year, joining our other friends, Professors Luigi Bavaresco, Mauro Cresti, Mario Fregoni, Lorenzo Genesio, Luigi Odello, Sauro Simoni, Giuseppe Surico, Rita Vignani, Massimo Vincenzini and the engineer Luciano Ardingo – President of SPEE, who is collecting all the studies together in Case Basse’s intelligent network.

One evening at dinner, a friend asked me, “How is it possible that with all this research you’ve been carrying out for so many years, you still can’t solve the problem of such bad seasons?” I replied that it’s very difficult to make a natural wine with only grapes from my vineyards, without any kind of help in the cellar, and this requires continual research in different fields; I’m sure that if I didn’t know what I do today, this year I would have made a wine like the 1989 vintage, the only one I never sold; therefore I’m very happy to be able to say that there will be very little of the 2014, but it will be excellent quantity, thanks to the continuous research done by our professor friends at Case Basse.

The wine market in Italy is in a very difficult situation due to the economic crisis, both because sales outlets have to run down stock that has accumulated in recent years, and also for the number of bottles on offer due to the increase in producers that have entered the market since the 1990s; this situation has led to a reduction in price that translates into giving bottles away to customers, but in this way the cellars fill up and this impedes and limits wine sales in the following years. Added to this are delayed payments that are just as damaging to a healthy economic management of a company. The owner of the Esselunga supermarket chain, Bernardo Caprotti, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper that wine has gone beyond the 50% discount threshold. My answer to this situation is to drastically reduce allocation to the national market and valorise foreign markets, which have responded really well to the offer of my wine.

The subject of work is an absolute priority in this period and the government has presented its bill, being discussed in the houses in total disagreement with the main Italian trade union. But work is not created with laws or strikes, it is only created by creating the best situation for producing goods that are saleable abroad and some of these situations, in my opinion, are:

1)    The simplification of all steps that companies need to complete to exercise the right to produce, which is sanctioned by the Constitution. It is significant that Cottarelli, commissioner of the spending review, declared in an interview with the Corriere della Sera that bureaucracy didn’t even supply the requested documents; he also affirmed that very long laws are written that are very difficult to read. According to the European Community Italian bureaucratic formalities cost small and medium-sized businesses 30 billion euros!!! And about a month ago the news that British investors (Mrs Deighton, wife of the British Secretary to the Treasury and Mr Taylor, an important businessman) had bought thirty hectares of land in Apulia in 2008 to build a hotel complex with an expected investment of seventy million euros: they gave up  because they still couldn’t  get the permits after six years.

2)    How is it conceivable that companies can invest in Italy when they can’t dismiss an employee that:

  1. a) Doesn’t come to work for a long time without any notification or justification due to continual drunkenness, but is reinstated by the judge.
  2. b) The nurse who hit a patient and was fired for this reason, was reinstated by the judge.
  3. c) Also the firefighter, arrested while robbing a bank and suspended from service, reinstated by the judge.
  4. d) The employee on sick leave, who was doing another job at the same time and therefore fired, reinstated by the judge.

In the essay by the lawyer Andrea Del Re “article 18: reinstatement at work” edited by Massimo Bornengo and Antonio Orazi, there are numerous cases of reinstatement that prevent companies from investing and opening production units in Italy; all this produces enormous economic damage and takes work away from those who behave correctly.

3)    Justice: therefore fairness, speed, equality for everyone. In August 2014 the Corriere della Sera published an article “Justice too slow, we won’t invest”: the US multinational Alps South wanted to open a plant in Bassano del Grappa, creating about 400 jobs, but they gave up mainly due to the slow legal system safeguarding their rights. The position of Italy in the world for protecting the carrying out of contracts is significant, we are 103rd in the world with 1185 days needed to respect a contract with 37 procedures and a 23.1% cost on the total value; the days necessary in other countries are 467 for Great Britain, 395 for France, 394 for Germany, 280 for Norway (these are DoingBusiness figures from 2014).

As for the problem of work, which is changing quickly on a world scale, it is necessary that a company is able to compete economically with businesses all over the western world and therefore the regulating laws must be the same or similar, so that companies can produce, prosper and hire employees, who will always work in a different way to the past.

The job market will be more and more centred on specialisation, knowledge, individual and distinctive skills and innovative profiles able to bring great added value. This will lead to a large reduction in the demand for unskilled labour, with little know-how and innovation and robotics will replace man more and more, who will need to become more flexible, creative, innovative and cultured.

Certainly, it must borne in mind that there are 15 thousand rules of Italian law that immobilise work, making it difficult to hire staff, as the lawyer Falasca wrote in his essay “Forbidden to hire” published by Lavoro, Rome 2014.

Another significant case cited in the book by the lawyer Falasca is that of Captain Schettino. Costa Crociere have still not been able to fire him because his trial has run aground and up to now it has not been possible to have a single hearing about his dismissal.

What do you think?