Viticoltura Biologica

The Three Lives of the Tree

Environmental, economical and ethical sustainability path.

From tree to barrique, from barrique to artificial nests built by inmates of the Penalty Institute of Alessandria (Piedmont). The virtuous cycle of wood in the name of recovering people and materials.

The oak wood of barrels and barriques, which comes from French state-owned forests managed in a sustainable way, is not always easily recyclable – the classic uses as tables or flower boxes discount the limit of often reduced spaces in homes as well as in public places – and this risks to interrupt the virtuous cycle. For us at Ricci Curbastro it was a matter of offering these oak staves a third life, after growing in the forest, which guarantees, thanks to solar energy, the “storage” in the wood of the carbon dioxide so dangerous for global warming and afterwards the use for several years as an ideal container for the aging of our Franciacorta and Curtefranca wines.

To start a process of recovering this wood, we have added the third pillar, that of ethical sustainability, to the concept of environmental and economic sustainability. The disused staves, wisely worked in the carpentry entirely managed by the inmates of the Pena Institute in Alessandria, were transformed into artificial nests for the company vineyards to host Great Tit, Black Redstart and other insectivores useful for the natural balance of the vineyards themselves, thus closing a cycle, that of wood, in the most natural way.


For this purpose, the Ricci Curbastro Agricultural Company activated in 2022 a collaboration with the Social Cooperative “Idee in fuga”, created with the aim of making the prisoners’ time at the “Cantiello e Gaeta” Penitentiary in Alessandria productive. The carpentry inside the prison allows inmates to acquire new skills that can offer job opportunities once the sentence is over and has been commissioned to produce the nests starting from the staves.

The detainees in Alessandria work six days a week, supported by the Penitentiary Police and expert volunteer carpenters with the aim of fulfilling orders from all over Italy by recovering materials and promoting a circular economy that uses recycled or discarded wood for defects. In 2019, an external carpentry was also set up to guarantee outgoing prisoners to be able to maintain the employment relationship and guarantee an income.

After having produced a few dozen artificial nests for insectivorous birds, the project will continue studying other recoveries of the staves.