Global warming and italian vineyards: What to do

Vines and wines

Global warming and italian vineyards: What to do

Will be go back to the tent? Maybe not, but surely there will be some changes: less vines per hectare, no more grass among the rows, lower vines with more leafage

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini Casato Prime Donne – Fattoria del Colle

Orcia and Chianti vineyard

Orcia and Chianti vineyard

Lorenzo Tosi and Fabio Bottonelli summarize in their 2nd supply-chain report for “Sole 24 Ore” the main actions adopted by Italian wineries to contrast the effect of the higher temperatures and the heavy rainfalls. It must be said that the global warming has not finished: in the next 40years the temperatures will be 0,8-1,8°C more than today. In other words we will have furnace like summers with rainfalls similar to the Niagara Falls.

But let’s see what is happening in the vineyards. Less vines per hectare, every wine will need more room to colonize and from where to absorb water. In the cultivation of the soil the hoe is backing use planting of pulses rather than grass, which seems to have been surpassed. The necessity to make the soil softer to retain the most water possible during the brief but violent storms will bring a return to frequent hoeing and let’s hope to leave the use of herbicides. To reduce the transpiration of the leaves the height of the rows will be reduced. Previously the agronomists asked for one square metre of active leaves, which means young, for every kilo of grapes, now we will reduce it to 20cm2. There are even those who think that it might be a good idea to go back to the ten which in Sicily and in Puglia has given excellent results for Chardonnay.
A choice which leaves on speechless. For years in fact the tents were considered synonym of great quantities and cheap wines.
The removing of the leaves has been abandoned, this 20years ago helped with the ripening

Chianti vineyard

Chianti vineyard height of the poles

and the health of the clusters. Now the problem is protecting them from the sun. The leave wall is permitted to grow in height so as to give shade to the grapes below. This brings changed to the trimming of the shoots also. We will no longer see vineyards all trim looking like hedges. In the future the vines will look more “bushy” even though the female shoots will be treated as before.

So in 30 years we have gone from the battles against those who added sugar to the must to increase the alcohol level to the opposite problem. Now wines are too alcoholic while the market accepts with difficulty bottles with more than 12,5Vol in alcohol.

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