On Sunday I had a pleasant telephone chat with Marco Simonitthe undisputed 'guru' of vine pruning. A delightful and knowledgeable person whom I had the opportunity to meet personally during the splendid Valentine's Day in Spessa Castle! Ah, how I love this article... I love it so much that I admit I was rather impatient to write it! I like it because I have been fighting for years on three issues that are deeply close to my heart: the training, the specialisation and the virtualisation.
Before I even tell you what transpired during our phone call, I want to make a point about all three of these topics because they can also be transposed to my work and that is why I feel them so strongly.
Study, Specialise, Don't waste time...
Every day new wine bloggers and wine influencers are born, more or less improvised, without any kind of experience, who 'try' in exchange for a few bottles of wine for free. The tragedy is that so many companies do not have the tools to assess the value of these characters, some unscrupulous swindlerswho for a handful of euros have bought themselves tens of thousands of followers on instagram and voila, the influencer is served! He drank 10 bottles from the supermarket, he often doesn't even have a blog or worse I feel a gratuitous and unprofessional rubbish peddled as such, even more often he only has an Instagram profile with a variable number of real followers like the characters who populate Maria De Filippi's programmes... I would be for putting a licence to do it! Am I unpopular? Patience...
I am the first to say that when I started as a wine blogger it was to realise my big dream as a child, viz. writing about what I love in my lake view house. And it was only a passion. However already I worked as a web designer for years and, inevitably, Perlage Suite was born with an extra gear. Perlage Suite was the first wine blog didactic on wine specialised in food-wine and bubbly pairing and today is the first in terms of coverage and engagement. I remember that when I mentioned that I wanted to specialise in sparkling wines, with a focus on Italian ones, I was taken for a fool. I was even more taken for a fool when I started to develop websites and e-commerce for wine cellars and exclusively for them. Yet it does not seem difficult to me to understand that every potential buyer has different special needs and this leads to the fact that each product has its own communication code.
And finally what do I mean by virtualisation? But holy crap, is it possible that in 2020 we still have to waste time and money on unnecessary travel? I am the first to say that there are things and jobs that inevitably require a physical presence at a certain location, but I am also certain that a good 70% can be done at home. Studying, for example, is one of those things. I sincerely hope that the lockdown has at least taught us that not only is studying/working from home possible, but doing it this way is also more productive, cheaper, greener.
What did I talk about with Marco Simonit?
About so many things, actually! Such a pleasant conversation I wouldn't have put it down any further, we really are on the same wavelength!
First, a warning (or concern) at the time of the Coronavirus.
So many people are unfortunately out of work. We are going through a frightening time that will have long repercussions on our lives. Or perhaps not. What is certain is that many are thinking of going into agricultureas a fallback, as if it were a job that anyone could do without any training or experience. Get it through that pretty little head of yours: Pruning the vine correctly is an extraordinary mix of science and art. The work is hard, but it is also local, safe, healthy and zero-impact. And if you get good at it, you become indispensable to the forward-looking company that knows that its plants are the most valuable of its assets. There is a lot of malice in the cellar visits to say that wine is made in the vineyard 'and blah blah blah', 'in the cellar we touch as little as possible the healthy grapes blah blah' and then how do you explain to me that in the vineyard there are people with zero culture while in the cellar even the lady who washes the floors has a degree in oenology?
Among the various, beautiful photos of campuses around the world by Marco Simonit, I chose this one in the vineyards Chateau Haut-Bailly because it reminded me of the first Bordeaux wine I drank in La Cité du Vin when I won the Millésima Blog Awards in 2017 as Europe's best blogger in the food-wine pairing category. I found one of my very first Instagram posts about it!
Marco also told me that it was there that the DUTEthe first university diploma in vine pruning and cutting, “Diplôme Universitaire de Taille ed d'Epamprage', which is based on the Simonit&Sirch method.
Marco Simonit: the pruning school? From September it is virtual.
The work of the vine pruner is nobleThe oldest vines produce the finest grapes. The vines are a heritage passed down through generations within the Maison. The task of the professional pruner is to ensure that this heritage remains healthy for as many years as possible. As an orchid collector, I know how traumatic the cutting of a root, branch or leaf can be for the plant. And a wrong cut not only compromises its growth, but also exposes it to increased fungal attack that can lead to premature death.
The Coronavirus accelerated a process that was already underway for Marco's pruning school that started in 2009: also offer virtual courses alongside traditional training. These courses have many merits, but the first is that they are economically viable even by the small producer who cannot pay an emblazoned consultant all for him. Another outstanding quality is their scalability: the courses are designed for any figure working in the world of wine and are adaptable to their level of training. La Simonit&Sirch virtual pruning school will start in four languages: Italian, French, German and Spanish and will be available in all countries where they are spoken. In addition to the online courses, there will also be real gyms where students can train and practice what they have learnt with tutors. These campuses will give you the opportunity to exercise both locally and globally: do you want to stay in your local area? Find a campus near you! Do you want to travel and learn more about, for example, Champagne pruning? They have campuses all over the world! Pruning school also offers you the chance to revolutionise your life and fulfil your dreams. Who is not fascinated by the idea of studying in Napa Valley, California, and moving there?
With Marco we also talked about mechanisation and the role of progress within the vineyard. And now I throw him a 'provocation'. How will the advent of artificial intelligence affect work in the vineyard?
Of one thing I am certain: the expression 'arms stolen from agriculture' is more obsolete than only matching fish with white wines.😅