Many people enjoy a glass of prosecco with their dinner, because it pairs well with everything from seafood to spicy Asian dishes. But the demand for the Italian sparkling wine is starting to cause some problems. According to a new study released earlier this month, the wine is destroying the soil in northeastern Italy’s vineyards.

The amount of soil erosion from Italy’s prosecco vineyards is not sustainable, according to Jesus Rodrigo Comino, a geographer at the Institute of Geomorphology and Soils in Malaga, Spain. Even though he wasn’t involved in the study, he said that the future of the vineyards could be in jeopardy.

Italy’s prosecco vineyards produce about 90 million bottles of the sparkling wine each year. After growing concerns about the skyrocketing demand of prosecco and its effect on the local environment, researchers from the University of Padua in Italy decided to look into the “soil footprint” of high-quality prosecco.

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After studying 10 years of data for rainfall, land use, soil and topographic maps, they found that prosecco was responsible for three-quarters of total soil erosion in the region. Then, they compared the soil erosion numbers with annual prosecco sales and came up with an annual “soil footprint” of 4.4 kilograms per bottle.

It is worth noting that soil erosion isn’t always negative. To keep an ecosystem healthy, the erosion can help generate new soils. But that doesn’t mean that this current trend with prosecco production should continue.

Scientists said that vineyard owners can reduce soil loss by leaving grass between the rows. According to simulations, this one solution could reduce total erosion by half. Other ideas include planting hedges and other greenery around the vineyards and also by the rivers and streams. According to Comino, “Only the application of nature-based solutions will be able to reduce or solve the problem.”

Via Science News

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