Grapes on a vine

Cross-border cooperation on growing wine grapes resistant to climate change

Cross-border cooperation on growing wine grapes resistant to climate change

This is the aim of a new Interreg project in France and Spain

Today, 22 February, the official government website of the Basque Region in Spain informed the public about the launch of a new Interreg project that will adapt wine growing to the new climatic conditions. The initiative, called VITISAD, will see agricultural research institutions from France and Spain (apart from the Basque Country, there is also La Rioja, Navarre and Pyrénées-Atlantiques) collaborate for 32 months on novel techniques and methods to making the vine plants more resistant to the effects of extreme weather while preserving the traditional quality of the wines produced.

A project based on experimentation, joint evaluation and exchange of experiences

These two countries are leading producers and consumers of wine on a global scale and the tradition surrounding viticulture has deep roots, yet adaptation and innovation are also needed if the competitive edge and culture are to be preserved. The new techniques have already been implemented in other places and it was reported that last year, 100 brands of wine were produced after applying new methods to the plants.

How does climate change affect wine growing? For one, rising temperatures cause the grapes to mature sooner and faster which can change their quality. Then there are also the increasing torrential rains which directly contribute to soil erosion.

The VITISAD initiative will study applying new techniques concerning five areas of the process.

It has been proposed to apply vegetation coverages on vulnerable soils. Then there is also the issue of irrigation, which means that several techniques, such as aerial drip, buried drip and surface watering, will be applied.

The problem of higher temperatures will be addressed by installing flexible shading nets to protect the grapes in critical periods. Another experimentation will deal with the effect of organic fertilizers in order to raise the storage of carbon and nutrients in the soil.

The final area will be genetic analyses of the existing vine stocks in order to determine which varieties are more resistant and/or adaptive to climate change conditions.

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