The agro-food production of Piedmont has unique characteristics and their quality is closely linked to their history. There is a deep bond with the respective territories of cultivation and processing.
To make these products known and appreciated by all, various activities undertaken by the institutions and producers' organizations are in place to safeguard, value and promote them, through quality policies as well as a system of wine cellars, wine producers, fairs, markets and eco-museums.
Piedmont wines possess an added value that derives from their deep relationship with their territory of origin, besides their renowned quality and special characteristics.
Besides their renowned quality and special characteristics, Piedmont wines possess an added value that derives from their deep relationship with their territory of origin: the mythical Langhe, Roero areas, extensive and varied Monferrato area, and the hills and prealpine chains of Turin and northern Piedmont. Enchanting and fascinating territories where viticulture creates and moulds the farming and rural landscape, and which inspire art, culture, and local traditions, and exalt food and wine production along with the entire agri-food supply chain, these lands attract millions of tourists and wine lovers who also want to see and enjoy the beauty and delights offered in the Piedmont wine-producing lands.
These areas with their precious and almost natural assets, consist in the 14 Regional Wine Shops and 34 Wine Cellars or Municipal Wineries, instituted by the Piedmont Region with Regional Law n. 37 of 1980, established for the Castles and Historical Buildings in the main Piedmont viticulture territories that produce the best selection of DOC and DOCG wines, and receive about a million visitors and tourists yearly.
The Piedmont Region promotes their constitution, and acknowledges and supports their activities without targeting profits or business exploits, but only to promote and uphold the wines produced, viticulture and the entire territory represented.
The Regional Wine Shops that are made up of the Municipalities and other Regional Agencies of the area and represent the territory's institutional and productive activities, are more extensive than the Municipal Wine Cellars or Wineries which generally represent the viticulture of a single Municipality. Many of these facilities, besides enlivening the territory with numberless initiatives and events, also direct the ethnographic oenological museums and restaurants that offer traditional dishes and gastronomic specialties paired off with the wines.
The prestige of Piedmont wines is strongly bound to their production areas: lands where the vines and wines have sculpted an enchanting farming and rural landscape and are integral parts of the history, culture and traditions of their populations.
These landscapes, rich in castles and historical buildings, have become the abode of wines which with other excellent farm foods exalt Piedmont cuisine and foodstuffs. These territories are part of the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato areas as well as the Turin hills and prealpine areas, together with the hilly chains of the Piedmont highlands where the Wine Trails operate, fully recognized pursuant to national Law n. 269 of 1999 and the Regional Law n. 20 of 1999.
The Wine Trails are dotted by myriads of farms, wine cellars, holiday farmhouses, didactic farms, hotels, regional wineries, wine shops, and ethnographic wine and farming museums that comply with the quality standards provided by disciplinary codes.
The pleasure and charm of Piedmont wines can be discovered also through Wine Trails that open out across the Piedmont region.
Country festivals and farm and agri-food trade fairs are important showcases that promote the regional territory and its resources: products, lands and landscapes, food-and-wine culture, farming, tradition and culture.
The Piedmont Region safeguards, upholds and promotes, in synergy with the agencies, these events which are a real resource of the region, and make known to the public the typical products and productions supported and protected through specific quality policies.
The Business and Trade Agency provides support for trade fairs for farm agri-food products, recognised pursuant to R.L. 31/2008 in favour of the local administrations; through this law, our Region complies with community principles of freedom of enterprise, has simplified and reduced bureaucratic procedures to the minimum and introduced the principle of promoting the "trade fair product" also at international levels.
The Business and Trade Agency ensures:
The farmers' markets (stands that directly sell farm products) have, in a short time, become real territorial marketing tools, and offer the possibility of rediscovering the traditions linked to the territory's food-and-wine culture.
These direct selling methods are part of the "development of the short distribution chain" initiative, a particular type of marketing based on the direct relationship between producers and consumers, which allows to experiment new forms of trade, encounter and cooperation as well as the possibility of acquiring quality products at reasonable prices.
The creation of farmers' markets was authorised by a decree of the Ministry of Farming Policies dated November 2007, which defined the uniform requisites and adequate standards for the holding of farmers' markets, in relation to the participation of producers, sales methods and price transparency.
Producers and products
At the farmers' markets, the farmers and producers have to sell farm and processed products of the Piedmont farm enterprises (even though the municipalities have the right to set, within their disciplinary codes, more restrictive territorial limits). In every case the place of origin of the products, names of the producer and sales prices have to be clearly specified and shown to the public.
The producers are obliged to comply with sanitary hygiene norms on the labels as provided by Italian and Community laws and the products have to be seasonal and free from GMO (genetically modified organisms).
A committee is assigned to every market, formed by representatives of farmstead producers, who help the municipality control the correct application of the norms by checking the quality of the products, controlling the trend of prices and suggesting to the municipality the corrective actions to improve the market's operating modes.
The Piedmont farmers' markets
Since 2008 the Piedmont Region has undertaken various initiatives to incentivise the development of the short distribution chain, among which are the farmers' markets instituted by municipalities or other local agencies (municipal consortiums and associations) and later implemented by local business farmers and producer category associations.
As of today the Piedmont Region has financed about 30 projects presented by mountain municipalities and those engaged in the constitution of farmers' markets on their territories. Each market is governed by a disciplinary code approved by the municipality that set the operating regulations: day and time of the market, number of stands, fees to be paid by participants, fines for noncompliant participants, etc.
The market's programme may include cultural events, didactic meetings and demos correlated to the typical and traditional products of the territory of origin, activities that contribute to the upholding of biodiversity and restoring the bond with the territory, while countering crop uniformity and the consequential flattening of tastes and consumption.
The institution of ecomuseums on the territory aims at rebuilding, testifying to and upholding the historical memory, life, material culture and relationships between the natural and anthropised environment.
The ecumuseum stands as the expression of the culture of a territory in its global sense, and may be the instrument for its recovery, relaunching and valorisation. It is a kind of laboratory where the past is protected and the future envisioned, with the active participation and involvement of the community.
Its strategic role in the management and valorisation of the territory makes it the ideal tool fora significant contribution to the rural development of local realities.
The ecomuseum may work up micro-economies thanks to the rediscovery and valorisation of traditional knowhow and products that have often been forgotten but, if correctly revived, may create a new sector in the market demand and economy. Of course the consumer has to be constantly or occasionally made aware of product specificity and its close ties with the local identity. The revival of productions and professions at risk of abolition, signifies in fact that consumers have to be informed of the added value of the local product, which includes high quality, uniqueness, respect for local traditions, naturalness and distinctness of origin.
All that is related to culinary traditions, typical products, knowhow and local cultivars, form part of that heritage which an ecomuseum safeguards, and is the ideal ground for the economical development of the territory.
The ethnographic and oenological museums collect, conserve and organise the sources of material culture related to farm productions, and work in the vineyards and wine cellars.
In Piedmont the ethnographical and oenological museums are often composed of private museum collections, and initiatives of historic wine cellars.
Numerous sections containing specifications dedicated to material culture of productions are, however, found also in the Regional Wine Shops, Wine cellars and Municipal Wineries.
Museum collections are to be visited to trace the history of the territory, lifestyles and roots of Piedmont farm civilisation.