Italy applies for World Heritage status for prosecco-growing region as sales of the fizzy stuff boom

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Prosecco is produced amid the rolling hills of the Veneto region in Italy’s north-east.

By Nick Squires

Buoyed by a seemingly unquenchable British thirst for prosecco, the Italian region that produces the sparkling wine is seeking World Heritage status.
A formal proposal for the vine-covered hills around the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the Veneto region, to be recognised as an outstanding landscape is to be sent to Unesco in Paris.
The application日本藤素
was approved this week by Maurizio Martina, the agriculture minister. “We support the candidacy because it expresses the ability of prosecco to add value to an agricultural region and promote Italy in the world,” the minister said. “One of the most outstanding elements is the harmony between human endeavor and the natural environment.”
Luca Zaia, the governor of the Veneto region, first put forward the proposal in 2009 but it has taken eight years to compile the dossier for Unesco recognition. “This is a historic day,” he said.
If the bid is successful, it would cement Italy’s status as the country with the most World Heritage sites – it currently has 51, closely followed by China, Spain and France. Britain has 30. Italy’s World Heritage sites include the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the Basilica of St Francis at Assisi in Umbria, the Amalfi Coast and the historic centres of Rome, Naples, Florence and Siena.
Britain is the biggest overseas market for prosecco. Credit: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
World Heritage status would also attract more visitors to the region, luring them away from better-known wine areas such as Tuscany and the Langhe region in Piedmont.
Italy produces around 355 million bottles of prosecco a year, with Britain the biggest export market. The British knock back about 86 million bottles of the “frizzante” (fizzy wine) a year and in the UK sales of prosecco have eclipsed the taste for Champagne.
•Browse our selection of Champagne and Prosecco at Telegraph Wine

The boom in sales has prompted vintners to plant more vines in a bid to boost production further. As producers scramble for a share of the lucrative market, some have resorted to night-time raids on their neighbours to steal newly-planted vines.
The vines are reportedly stolen to order, with thieves selling them onto unscrupulous producers who are setting up new vineyards, often outside the traditional prosecco-producing area of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. One exasperated prosecco producer who found his vineyard stripped bare of 800 young vines nailed a hand-drawn sign to a tree: “Dear thief, I bought my vines. It would have been much better if you had bought yours too.”


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