A vineyard in the foothills of Italy’s volcanic Euganean Hills may seem an unlikely spot to find 60,000 goji plants but since 2013, the Azienda Agricola Capodaglio winery has been growing and selling the Asian superfruit.
“A few years ago, the agricultural and winemaking tradition of our company had a taste for innovation. We added the completely natural and sustainable plant cultivation of Goji Lycium Barbarum to the vineyard,” it says.
The domain now has over 60,000 goji plants on a plantation of 35 hectares, and claims to be the biggest in Europe.
“Today the general offer of goji berries in Italian and European supermarkets is in its dehydrated form and comes mainly from the Chinese market. This [is because of] the incapability of distributing a fresh product due to the distance and the length and costs of the transportation.”
Sold in 100% biodegradable and compostable packaging, the certified organic fresh berries contain the vitamins C and B1 as well as selenium, chromium, manganese and beta-carotene.
The company also sells goji juice, jam and the plants but says eating the berries fresh is best for the organoleptic properties as well as nutritional and energy content.
According to Goji Capo, another reason European consumers are looking for home-grown goji berries is the over-use of pesticides in Asian producer countries and pesticide residues on imported crops.
Each 100 ml bottle contains the juice of 160 g of fresh goji berries, fresh lemon juice and no added sugar. The jam contains 5% added sugar.
Elena Capodaglio from Goji Capo told FoodNavigator: “In season, which is between June and October, in the very early morning, we daily handpick our berries, and only after a careful screening, the selected ones are sent to the Del Santo Alimenti lab of […] Gianni De Cecchi.
“He developed his own technique to preserve any kind of vegetable through a method using cold press, low temperatures and high pressure sterilisation that avoids the use of any kind of preservatives or additives.”
Incidentally, Capodaglio said Del Santo Alimenti will develop a complete line of foods to be sent into space for Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian female astronaut.