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How can grapevine physiology contribute to a sustainable wine production in a changing climate?

Manuela CHAVES, Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica. Univ. Nova de Lisboa, Portugal

How can grapevine physiology contribute to a sustainable wine production in a changing climate?

Grapevine physiology made major contributions to improve vineyard management and wine quality over the last decades. Pioneering work, studying carbon uptake and light interception by grapevine canopy was the basis for developing vineyard training systems adapted to local conditions.

Concepts of sink-source balance shaped management tools like pruning, irrigation and the appropriate root-stock. Presently, we face an increasingly unpredictable climate, combining seasonal drought with high temperatures, mostly in Mediterranean climates, where a large proportion of vineyards is located.

These conditions exert large constraints on yield and quality, posing new challenges on wine production. Paradigms are also changing. Among new practices are the use of genotypes with suitable phenology for the particular climate and stress resistant varieties and root-stocks.

Management tools as controlled irrigation, new training systems, canopy interventions and soil management practices can be designed to mitigate excessive solar input and therefore heat stress. Regulated deficit irrigation emerged as a powerful instrument to increase water savings in agriculture, allowing crops to withstand mild water stress with marginal decreases on yield and likely positive impact on fruit quality.

Under changing climate, production of high-quality wine will require a continuous monitoring of physiological markers, allowing a timely intervention of the viticulturist. Those markers will be based on advanced knowledge of physiological and molecular mechanisms of plant responses to the environment, particularly available water/temperature.

Current research challenges involve studying how the environment regulates genes and proteins of various metabolic pathways responsible for berry development and composition and therefore shapes wine quality. Our success in mitigation/adaptation to a changing climate will rely on multi-strategies combining the different disciplines that come together in viticulture.

The paper reproduced in this video-seminar was presented at the International Congress on Grapevine and Wine Sciences - ICGWS (Logroño, Spain, November 7-9, 2018) organized by ICVV.

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Published on 13/08/2019
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