Vineyard ecosystem, viticulture and enology in changing environments


Overview: Grapevine is one of the most important perennial crops in the world, and in the Mediterranean region specifically. However, grapevine production and fruit quality are highly dependent on climatic factors, fresh-water availability and dedicated agro-techniques. Grapevine has a complex interaction with the environment, for instance it tolerates relatively high water loss, saline soil, elevated midday temperatures and strong solar radiation. On the other hand, these very same factors cause chemical shifts in the plant, entailing negative consequences on fruit yield, chemical composition and wine quality and making viticulture and enology in a changing climate, and specifically in arid land, not trivial. In Europe, recurrent unexpected climate events, e.g. rainfall shortage, hail, and heatwaves, during the summer have prompted the introduction of agrotechnologies previously not needed. Drip and computerized fertigation are in expansion in regions of France, Spain, and Italy, and are a common practice in large areas in the United States. In Israel, arid regions are the new frontier of viticulture, recognized by large wineries. Here, in spite of a thriving tradition of “intelligent" irrigation, the use of herbicides and fertilizers exacerbate the soil deterioration process in the vineyards. The proposed session aims to bring together experts from multiple disciplines to explore the complex interaction between the vine and its environment, the very basis of the terroir concept and how to wisely implement agrotechniques to enhance sustainability of wine production.


Environmental conditions optimal for quality wine-grape production are of a complex nature and are not easily defined. For example, a sufficient amount of radiation is required, but overexposure deteriorates yield quality. Similarly, a correct water balance is necessary for optimal grape development. The vast expansion of wine consumption worldwide and the increasing demand for quality wine, along with apparent signs of climate change and repeated droughts in many wine-vineyard-growing areas, make a better understanding of the vineyard-environment interactions necessary.


Correctly implementing advanced agrotechniques is becoming key to sustainable agriculture. The use of computerized systems of fertigation or automated fruit maturation devices are increasingly introduced in viticulture. The session will contemplate the newest aspects of technological improvements in the field.


The economic value of grape as an agricultural crop relates not only to the yield but also to the quality of the berry as reflected by its chemical composition. A fundamental strategy to ameliorate fruit quality in a changing climate by optimizing viticulture practices lies on the (i) understanding of the mechanisms modulating the molecular physiology of the vine and the grape (ii) dissecting the regulation of polyphenol and aroma potential, and the (iii) identification of candidate gene regulators of key biochemical pathways.