Europe’s vineyards count for more than three million hectares and 5% of European agricultural land. There are ten thousand types and ten thousand varieties of vines. These as much as anything are elements which form the identity of the land and which are at the base of the approach of the project of the international association Iter Vitis. The vineyards make a valuable contribution to the natural and cultural wealth of Europe.
The route encompasses history, architecture, myths and traditions … everything which is linked to wine and vineyards. Accordingly, Iter Vitis works in collaboration with a scientific committee made up of representatives from several countries.
Vineyards Banyuls, France
Photo: Association Iter Vitis
The Cultural Route ‘The Ways of the Vine in Europe’ is managed by the international association ‘‘ITER VITIS’’ whose seat is in Sambuca di Sicilia in the Panitteri Palace. This association was created thanks to the European programme Leader + on the initiative of the GAL: Pays des Bastides and the Gaillacois Vineyard in Midi Pyrénées, Pays Pyrénées Méditerranée - Banyuls-sur-mer in Languedoc Roussillon, Terra del Gattopardo in Sicily and Kroton in Calabre. The theme is built around the idea of a European heritage: ‘‘The Vine and Cultural Space, a Common European Heritage’’. The route already covers 18 countries.
Specific objectives were set out when creating this route. They include:
- To demonstrate how the production of wine has always been a symbol of Europe’s identity and how the relevant technical knowledge has contributed to the construction of a European citizenship which transcends regions, peoples and national identities.
- To contribute to local development in accordance with current processes of integration, participation and sustainability by combining the traditional function of the landscape with tourism.
- To define the typology of wine-making landscapes and of private and public lands where wine-growing has left an important heritage. To create a database of historic vineyards as the basis of a policy which encourages respect for the heritage related to the production of wine in Europe.
- To develop educational and cultural meetings and exchanges with the aim of increasing awareness of this heritage and its importance in European culture.
- To develop initiatives and methodologies in order to produce a quality oeno-tourist offer which will elevate this tourist proposition from the triviality into which it has fallen.
- To demonstrate the role of wine as a tool of exchange. Wine-growing, and work in the fields and vineyards in particular, is a trigger for immigration and mobility. Wine therefore opens up new dialogues between different regions of Europe as well as with countries outside of Europe.
- To emphasise the European scale. Geographically, this theme spans several Mediterranean countries grouped under the same common denominator which is cultural landscape. It also brings together other European countries via other transversal themes, such as the transportation of merchandise (historically as well as today); and production and consumption relations between different countries.
- To actively protect vineyards by defending them from globalisation. The desire to safeguard and develop vineyards falls within the guiding lines of the European Convention on Landscape.
Vineyards cacabelos, Spain, France
Photo: Association Iter Vitis