This Is How Cavit Growers Are Reaching New Heights of Quality & Sustainability

Using revolutionary software known as PICA, Cavit and its network of heritage family growers have transformed viticulture in Trentino. The innovative vineyard mapping program allows for high-precision, eco-friendly farming practices that produce incredible-quality grapes and exceptional, terroir-driven wines.
Kate Colby headshot
Kate M. Colby

Cavit emerged onto the American wine scene in the 1970s as an early pioneer of a then-obscure white grape called pinot grigio. Over the last 50 years, the winery has dramatically expanded its range, offering a stellar selection of high-quality, approachable, and food-friendly wines. The brand has become a household name, beloved by savvy wine enthusiasts across the U.S., and holds the well-deserved title of America’s #1 Italian wine.*

Key to this success has been the remarkable terroir of northern Italy’s Trentino region and Cavit’s network of 11 wineries and 5,200 heritage family growers. These dedicated viticulturists hand tend roughly 60% of the region’s vineyards. To help them produce the best possible fruit, while safeguarding their precious land for future generations, Cavit started cataloging and analyzing the vineyards in 2010.

Piana Rotaliana vineyards - Cavit
Cavit’s vineyards in Piana Rotaliana, one of Trentino’s most renowned (and breathtakingly beautiful) winegrowing areas.

It was not an easy feat. Though Trentino is small by wine region standards — with roughly 10,000 hectares / 24,700 acres of vineyards — it’s surprisingly diverse. The region has three distinct climatic zones, various soil types, and elevations ranging from 80 to 800 meters / 262 to 2,625 feet above sea level. Thus, even vineyards within the same general area of Trentino can have markedly different growing conditions.

Working alongside the Bruno Kessler Foundation and the Edmund Mach Foundation, Cavit enologist Andrea Faustini developed PICA — Piattaforma Integrata Cartografica Agriviticola, or Integrated Agricultural and Viticultural Cartographic Platform. This revolutionary vineyard mapping software empowers the winery and its growers to customize their farming practices for each individual plot of land.

PICA: A Wholistic View of Each Trentino Vineyard

The name is also a nod toward the local dialect, where “pica” means “grape.” At its core, the software provides Cavit’s growers with detailed scientific data about their land to inform their technical decisions in the vineyard.

With PICA, the Cavit team has created vineyard registers that catalog each site by grape variety, vine age, vine training system, and other factors. The software also includes three-dimensional digital maps, which display a range of topographical data for the vineyards, such as altitude, aspect, exposure, and more.

“Having all the information for all our vineyards easily available to each of our winegrowers gives us an incredible advantage in everyday vineyard practices,” says Faustini. “Every process is now more effective and timely, while significantly reducing waste and treatments needs. PICA is such an advanced, detailed vineyard management system — it’s unlike anything else across Europe.”

Winkler Index in PICA - Cavit
On PICA’s Winkler Index map, each color represents a zone that is suitable for certain grape varieties but not for others.

The cataloging extends to the region’s soils, which include alluvial, fluvio-glacial, volcanic, and morainal, among others. Through extensive sampling and excavation of soil profiles, the Cavit team has created a detailed map of Trentino’s soils, which contains data on vineyard terrain, as well as physical and chemical analyses of the soil itself.

PICA can also access data gathered by 80 meteorological stations, as well as NASA’s Geographic Information Systems databases. These sources provide additional information about each geographical area and its climate, which has allowed Cavit to create climatic maps of the Trentino territory. Combined with the vineyard registers and soil analysis, the climatic data gives PICA a wholistic view of the Trentino region and all the growers’ vineyard sites.

Empowering Growers to Use High-Precision, Eco-Friendly Viticulture

The vast volume of data collected and processed by PICA helps Cavit’s agronomist team and the grape growers collaborate on key viticultural decisions throughout the year. Even better, despite the complexity of the software, the growers can receive the information via text message or email. So, they have everything they need to farm precisely and sustainably in the palm of their hand.

PICA’s detailed maps offer support in selecting the ideal grape varieties for each area. They show growers how varieties have fared when cultivated in sites with similar characteristics, as well as which grapes are suited to the current bioclimatic conditions of their region. This allows growers to plant the grape varieties that are most likely to thrive on their land.

Worker harvesting in vineyard - Cavit
Each grower’s grapes must meet Cavit’s rigorous quality and consistency standards.

As for the growers’ existing vineyards, PICA’s Harvassit feature includes grape ripening models that predict when grapes will ripen fully. Growers can use this information, along with their own on-the-ground expertise, to determine the perfect moment to harvest. Likewise, PICA identifies zones in which the grapes ripen at the same time, which helps growers plan their harvest so that they optimize their resources and pick the grapes at their peak ripeness.

PICA also assists with agronomical procedures like parasite control and irrigation management. The software has a highly precise disease monitoring system that helps growers utilize natural remedies (whenever possible) to prevent pests, treat diseases, and keep vines healthy.

As for irrigation, PICA integrates with the Mach Foundation site to allow growers to calculate the exact water requirements for each individual vineyard. The Mach Foundation portal generates a customized irrigation model based on the vineyard’s characteristics and the area’s meteorological forecasts. By using the precise amount of water each vineyard needs, the Cavit team reduces water usage and prevents soil erosion caused by excess watering.

Mapping the Future of Cavit Wines

By using PICA’s thorough mapping capabilities, Cavit and its dedicated growers have found new opportunities within the Trentino region. PICA correctly identified Rulendis and Brusafer — areas previously considered too extreme for high-quality viticulture — as suitable for the cultivation of premium pinot grigio and pinot nero, respectively. The team expects more exciting discoveries to come.

PICA also helps Cavit plan for the future. Since the software provides real-time data as well as projections, the team can make strategic adjustments in the vineyard, based on climatic factors or the demands of the market. This flexibility streamlines resource usage and makes for a more environmentally and financially sustainable operation.

Pinot grigio bottle with greenery - Cavit
The proof of PICA’s effectiveness? It’s in every delicious bottle.

Most of all, PICA empowers growers to take full advantage of Trentino’s remarkable terroir. It guides precise viticultural practices that ensure each vineyard receives the exact care it needs, with minimal environmental impact, to produce the best possible grapes for winemaking. Put simply, better viticulture leads to better wines.

Thus, PICA has given Cavit a scientific tool that enables the winery to continue fulfilling its core value proposition. Delivering exceptional, terroir-driven wines at various price points that accommodate the full spectrum of wine lovers.

With PICA — now more than ever before — technology, craftsmanship, and innovation are Better Together at Cavit.

*Nielsen xAOC + Liq Latest 52 Wks – w/e 02/24/24

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