Sept. 28, 2005 — -- In one corner of Tuscany, baked golden hills give way to the lush green of a flourishing vineyard where men with silver hair meander between the rows of full purple grapes, and Mozart and Tchaikovsky fill the warm air. This is not a scene out of a romantic Hollywood film. This is fertilizer for grapes on Carlo Cignozzi's Al Paradiso di Frassina vineyard.
"I don't really know why it works, but I always had an idea it would," Cignozzi told The Times of London.
Cignozzi started playing classical music through loudspeakers around his vineyards four years ago, and is convinced the melodies have made his grapes healthier and stronger. He said the music scares off animals who feed on young grapevines, as well as parasites, molds and bacteria.
"It's fantastic because the bunches near the music grow, they can grow faster," Cignozzi said.
Cignozzi's grapes mature within 10 to 14 days, while most grapes average around 20 days to mature. The faster the grapes grow, the higher the alcohol content.
The results on his vineyard have been so impressive that Florence University has launched a research project in an attempt to scientifically validate them. As part of the research, 10 vines on Cignozzi's land will be exposed to music all year and 10 will be grown in silence. Researchers will also examine the response of the vines to different sound frequencies.
Cignozzi bought the vineyard in the late 1990s and started playing music when he came across Chinese and Korean studies on the effects of music on plants.
"They thought we were a bit odd," Diane Grande, Cignozzi's wife, said of local residents.
But no matter what the critics or scientists say, Cignozzi says he will continue to feed his vines classical music.