Equidistant from France, Spain and Italy, Sardinian language, culture and grapes are a legacy of Europe’s changing political landscape across the centuries. Today, when driving through Sardinia’s rugged hills it’s clear that this island has conceded little to progress in the past 2,000 years. Its sparse, arid interior retains the Mediterranean’s eternal blend of vineyards and olive groves stretching to the horizon. All is not as it seems, however, and in recent years nearly 75% of Sardegna’s vineyards were grubbed up through EU-funded schemes.
We may never know what was lost in terms of ancient vineyards and varieties but few are holding a candle as the diggers pass by. The overproduction that characterized centuries of grape growing here proved hard to break and perhaps we are better off without the limitless expanse of high-yielding vineyards that discredited this island. On the other hand, I fear we may have lost the baby with the bathwater. Sardegna could always boast examples of both estates and cooperatives which were fiercely proud of the island’s potential and perhaps the EU called time too early. Perhaps not, old habits die hard.