March 30, 2012 — Italian law enforcement doesn’t have to go far to toast the capture of mafia members, they can do so right on the mobsters’ vineyards.
As part of the ongoing European Union initiative Programma Operativo Nazionale Sicurezza, which works to convert former mafia land into agricultural projects, the bank Unicredit announced it will contribute funds to planting 370 acres of new vines near Palermo, Sicily, according to WineSpectator.com’s Unfiltered. The land was once owned by Don Michele “The Pope” Greco, who died in prison in 2008.
So far, 310 acres of vines have been planted as part of PONS. Centopassi, the brand that produces the wines from the vines planted so far, made half a million bottles of wine last year and took in $1.2 million in revenue. Each bottling is dedicated to a victim of the mafia.
“’What was an emblem of the economic force of the mafia is now becoming a symbol of Sicily's rebirth,’ Sicilian Economic Commissioner Gaetano Armao said at the Vinitaly trade fair.” … “The government process of seizing these lands can take years, by which point the existing crops have died. Early on, there were even acts of arson at one farm.”
Photo courtesy tunnelarmr via Flickr/CC