Italian flavors: Val di Non apples
- WTI Magazine #121 Nov 17, 2019
Since the end of the seventeenth century, an era in which the prevalent crops being cultivated were mulberry and vines, the quality of the fruit produced in the Val di Non has been certified by papers and plaques issued at the main fruit and vegetable shows in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
These acknowledgements also represent the first certifications of the regional vocation of the Noce valleys and the initiative of its populace.
The leading fruit farmers of the time had the foresight to catch onto the trends of that economic period and saw the opportunity to replace and supplement the mulberries and vines, which provided very little income, with the introduction and cultivation of apples and pears.
It was after the Second World War that fruit growing definitively established itself throughout the whole Valle di Non and became the undisputed most important agricultural activity.
The Melinda brand was created in 1989 to certify the origin and production of the apples and was a response by the Trento fruit growers to the presence of fruits on the Italian market known as “Val di Non apples”.
That year, the first 13 cooperatives, followed shortly after by another 4, renounced their own brands in order to pool their commitment, knowledge and passion to realise a dream: to bring together all the producers of the Non and Sole valleys under one fantastic name and brand.
Of all the member countries of the European Union, Italy is the leading producer of apples for fresh consumption, but only the Golden, Red Delicious and Renetta varieties from Val di Non earned DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) status in 2001, meaning no other Italian apple can boast of such an honour.
The Val di Non Apple is only produced in a limited area situated to the north-east of the province of Trento and characterised by climatic and soil conditions that have always made it one the best suited areas for producing apples in the world.
It is also because of this that the tradition of apple cultivation in Val di Non has been documented for over 2000 years.
The fruit growers participating in the consortium for the protection of the Val di Non Apple must follow the DOP production guidelines approved by the European Commission.
The name ‘Mela Val di Non DOP’ is reserved exclusively for Golden delicious, Red delicious and Renetta del Canada varieties produced in Val di Non that fall into categories 1A and Extra and meet the required standards of crunchiness and levels of natural sugars and acids established by the production guidelines approved by the European Commission.
Val di Non DOP Apples are therefore not only healthy and beautiful to behold, they are also very good to eat.
The local area
Val di Non is one of the main valleys in Trentino and is situated in the north-west part of the province. It is formed of a large plateau crossed by the Noce river and is home to 38 towns.
Paradoxically, the Non Valley is not a valley, but rather a plateau. The largest valley in Trentino is actually characterised by a series of wavy amphitheatres, similar to concentric circles, that pass through the lower elevations with landscape marked by orchards, alpine vegetation, meadows and rocks.
This long, undulating plateau, shaped by the water courses that carved out deep gorges, is closed off at the north by the Maddalene mountain group, the Brenta Dolomites to the south-west, the eastern sub-group of the Anuani mountains to the east and the Paganella massif and the Andalo pass to the south.
These geographic coordinates go part way to explaining the richness of the valley agriculture, with its imposing fruit warehouses that serve as the modern equivalent of the castles of yore. Along with bell towers, both of these types of building can be found dotted along the landscape, which has been strongly influenced by human intervention.
By Consorzio Melinda with MiPAAF