The Impact of Climate Change on Viticulture and
Cornelis van Leeuwen
and Philippe Darriet
Climate change is a major challenge in wine production. Temperatures are increasing world-
wide, and most regions are exposed to water deﬁcits more frequently. Higher temperatures
trigger advanced phenology. This shifts the ripening phase to warmer periods in the summer,
which will affect grape composition, in particular with respect to aroma compounds. Increased
water stress reduces yields and modiﬁes fruit composition. The frequency of extreme climatic
events (hail, ﬂooding) is likely to increase. Depending on the region and the amount of change,
this may have positive or negative implications on wine quality. Adaptation strategies are
needed to continue to produce high-quality wines and to preserve their typicity according
to their origin in a changing climate. The choice of plant material is a valuable resource to
implement these strategies. (JEL Classiﬁcations: Q13, Q54)
Keywords: Climate change, temperature, water deﬁcit, wine quality, wine typicity.
The reality of climate change is admitted by the vast majority of the scientiﬁc
community (IPCC, 2014). Among human activities, agriculture—in particular
viticulture—is highly dependent upon climatic conditions during the growing
season. Hence, wine production is obviously affected by climate change. Return
on investment in most agricultural production is driven by yield, thus it is relevant
to study the impact of climate change on yield parameters. Return on investment
in wine production is driven as much by sales prices, based on quality and reputa-
tion, as by yield. In viticulture, it is thus important to study the implications of
We thank Marc and Matthieu Dubernet for the data on grape composition in the Languedoc (Figure 2)
and Alexandre Pons for the massoia lactone data (Figure 4).
Bordeaux Sciences Agro, ISVV, UMR Ecophysiologie et Génomique Fonctionnelle de la Vigne n° 1287,
F-33140 Villenave d’Ornon, France; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (corresponding author).
Université de Bordeaux, Unité de recherche Œnologie, ESC 1366 INRA, ISVV, F-33140 Villenave
d’Ornon, France; e-mail: email@example.com.
Journal of Wine Economics, Volume 11, Number 1, 2016, Pages 150–167
© American Association of Wine Economists, 2016
climate change not only on yield but also on quality (e.g., Ashenfelter and
Storchmann, 2016; Oczkowski, 2016). In this paper, we address the impact of
climate change on vine phenology and development, grape and wine composition,
and wine typicity according to origin. Some of these changes have already occurred
and can be quantiﬁed; others are predictable in the coming decades.
II. The Effect of Climate on Wine Production
Climate is a major factor in wine production. In the scientiﬁc literature, many papers
address the effect of climate. Vines are grown in a wide variety of climatic situations.
However, a majority of the major wine-growing regions are located between the 35th
and the 50th parallels in the Northern Hemisphere and between the 30th and the
45th parallels in the Southern Hemisphere. It is virtually impossible to produce
high-quality wines in tropical or subtropical regions. Wine growing is also complicat-
ed at high latitudes because of injury caused by spring or winter frost and because of
a loss of bud fertility at low temperatures. Each of the main wine-producing regions
can be characterized by mean climatic conditions, which are well described in
Gladstones (2011). These climatic conditions are a major driver of wine typicity in
relation to its origin (van Leeuwen and Seguin, 2006). Among environmental
factors, climate has a greater impact on vine development and fruit composition
compared to soil and grapevine variety (van Leeuwen et al., 2004). In a given
wine-producing region, climatic conditions vary from one year to the other. These
variations induce the “vintage effect,”year-to-year variations in yield, quality, and
typicity. Growers have chosen plant materials (variety, clone, and rootstock) accord-
ing to local climatic conditions in order to optimize the compromise between yield
and quality. Viticultural practices can be modiﬁed to adapt to climatic variability
Vine phenology—that is, the date on which bud break, ﬂowering, and véraison
(onset of ripening) occur—is driven by temperature. This relation is so strong that
vine phenology can be predicted by models that are based only on temperature
(Parker et al., 2011). Temperature also affects fruit ripening. Sugar accumulation in-
creases with temperature (Coombe, 1987), but certain secondary metabolites, like
anthocyanins, are negatively affected by high temperature (Kliewer and Torres,
1972). Grape acidity, in particular the malic acid content, decreases in high temper-
ature (Coombe, 1987).
B. Water Status
Vine water status depends on soil texture, percentage of stones, rooting depth, rain-
fall, reference evapotranspiration (ET
), and leaf area. Water deﬁcit impairs
Cornelis van Leeuwen and Philippe Darriet 151
photosynthesis (Hsiao, 1973), and shoot growth (Lebon et al., 2006) and reduces
berry size (Trégoat et al., 2002; van Leeuwen and Seguin, 1994). It increases grape
tannin and anthocyanin content (Duteau et al., 1981; Matthews and Anderson,
1988; van Leeuwen and Seguin, 1994). Excessive water deﬁcit stress can lead to
damage on leaves and stuck grape ripening.
As long as water is not a limiting factor, vine photosynthesis increases with light in-
tensity until one-third of maximal radiation and then levels off (Kriedemann and
Smart, 1971). Contradictory results have been published on the impact of light on
grape phenolics, probably because it is difﬁcult to separate the effect of light from
that of temperature. In a ﬁeld study with an adapted experimental design, Spayd
et al. (2002) showed that the amount of anthocyanin in grape skins increases with
light but is negatively affected by high temperature.
III. Climate Change
Most scientists have admitted the reality of climate change, caused by human activ-
ities and in particular the emission of greenhouse gases, since the 1990s. The main
measurable effect of climate change is a steady increase in temperature. This is ob-
served worldwide, although signiﬁcant differences in the rate of heating exist from
one region to another (Schar et al., 2004). Depending on the scenario of greenhouse
gas emissions, temperatures are predicted to increase by from 1 °C to 3.7 °C until the
end of the century, compared to the reference period 1985–2005 (IPCC, 2014). Less
consensus exists concerning a modiﬁcation in rainfall patterns. Rainfall is a discon-
tinuous phenomenon, and tendencies can be assessed only over very long periods
(several decades). Moreover, it is likely that modiﬁcations in rainfall will differ
from one region to another (IPCC, 2014). However, vine water status is driven as
much by evapotranspiration as by rainfall (Lebon et al., 2003; see discussions in
companion paper, Gambetta, 2016). Evapotranspiration increases with temperature.
Hence, a warmer climate is also a dryer climate, even when rainfall does not decrease.
Climate change will also increase radiation and the frequency of extreme weather
events (IPCC, 2014).
IV. The Impact of Increasing Temperatures on Vine Development, Fruit
Composition, and Wine Quality
A. Measurable Effects
An increase in temperature, which is one of the major consequences of climate
change, triggers an advance in phenology. Since the 1980s, harvest dates have ad-
vanced by two weeks in Alsace (Duchêne et al., 2005) and Bordeaux, France
152 The Impact of Climate Change on Viticulture and Wine Quality
(Figure 1A). In northern (Alsace) or Atlantic (Bordeaux) wine-growing regions,
growers take advantage of warmer conditions to pick fruit at greater levels of ripe-
ness (Figure 1B). Hence, the advance in harvest date is less compared to the real
advance in phenology. In Mediterranean conditions, increasing the ripeness levels
of grapes is not needed. This explains why the advance in harvest dates is greater
in this situation (approximately four weeks for Châteauneuf du Pape, Figure 1C).
Harvest Dates in an Estate in Saint-Emilion from 1892 to 2014
Fig. 1a - Colour online, B/W in print
Source: ONERC, 2014.
Duration from Véraison to Harvest from 1988 to 2014 from a Block of Cabernet Franc in the
Saint-Emilion Area (Bordeaux, France)
Note: The length
Fig. 1b - B/W online, B/W in print
of the ripening period increased by 20 days over 25 years. An exception to this tendency was 2013, when growers picked
relatively early because of Botrytis pressure.
Cornelis van Leeuwen and Philippe Darriet 153
In any case, grapes ripen in warmer conditions because of climate change, not only
because the climate is warming up but also because phenology is advanced.
Data from the Dubernet laboratory (11100 Montredon-Corbières, France) shows
that there has been a signiﬁcant evolution in grape composition at harvest over the
past 30 years (Figure 2). This data is based on thousands of samples analyzed every
year. Potential alcohol levels increased by more than 2% by volume, total acidity de-
creased by 1 g tartrate/L and pH increased by 0.2 units. Similar modiﬁcations in
grape composition have been reported at many other vineyards (Duchêne and
Schneider, 2005; Mira de Ordunia, 2010). It is likely that this evolution is not only
the result of an increase in temperature. Other factors include increased atmospheric
carbon dioxide (CO
) (+15% over the period), increased radiation, improved
Harvest Dates in Châteauneuf du Pape from 1945 to 2012
Fig. 1c - B/W online, B/W in print
Potential Alcohol Levels, Total Acidity and pH of Grape Juice Just Prior to Harvest in
Languedoc from 1984 to 2013
Fig. 2 - B/W online, B/W in print
laboratory, 11100 Montredon-Corbières.
154 The Impact of Climate Change on Viticulture and Wine Quality
viticultural techniques, and longer “hangtime”(Figure 1B). More research is needed
to quantify the impact of each of these factors in modiﬁed grape composition at
B. Predictable Effects
It is possible to model predicted phenology by using temperature projections until
the end of the century. Flowering in Bordeaux (France) will be advanced by 15
days in the near future (2020–2050) and by 30 days at the end of the century
(2070–2100, Figure 3). Ripeness will be advanced by 25 and 45 days, respectively
(Pieri, 2010). This would mean harvest in the ﬁrst week of September in two
decades and around mid-August by the end of the century. These early harvest
dates are incompatible with the production of great terroir wines (van Leeuwen
and Seguin, 2006).
It is quite easy to model phenology based on predicted temperatures, but predict-
ing grape composition as a result of changing climatic conditions in the years to
come is much less obvious. However, it is very likely that the already observed
trend in grape composition (Figure 2) will continue. Increased sugar levels in
grapes yield wines with a higher alcohol level. The best possible alcohol level for
quality may vary with the concentration in other compounds like organic acids
and the style of the wine targeted by the producer. Wine quality can be impaired
when alcohol level is too low but also when the alcohol level is too high. Until the
early 1980s, wine quality was altered in most situations by having an alcohol level
that was too low. Hence, wine quality beneﬁted from increased sugar levels in
grapes. Today it has become more common to harvest grapes with a potential
Modeled Mean Flowering and Harvest Dates
Fig. 3 - B/W online, B/W in print
mean ﬂowering (A) and harvest dates (B) for Merlot in Avignon (avi),Bordeaux (bor), Colmar (col), Dijon (dij) and Toulouse
(tou). All towns located in France. RP = Recent Past (1971–2000), NF = Near Future (2020–2050) and DF = Distant Future (2070–2100).
Adapted from Pieri (2010).
Cornelis van Leeuwen and Philippe Darriet 155
alcohol level of over 14%, which, for most wines, is too high for optimum quality.
Regarding acidity, the most relevant indicator is must and wine pH. Wines are per-
ceived as being rounder, sweeter, and less aggressive when pH increases. Most con-
sumers consider this a positive change. However, wines can lack freshness when
pH is too high, and it can also impair stability. The wild yeast Brettanomyces brux-
ellensis can spoil wine during aging in barrels or tanks, even after bottling, when pH
is high (Lonvaud-Funel et al., 2010). Higher levels of sulfur dioxide (SO
) have to be
added to stabilize wines when pH is high.
With respect to aroma, concentrations of 2-methoxy-3-isobutyl-methoxypyrazine
(IBMP, responsible for bell pepper aroma in wine) in grapes decrease with temper-
ature (Falcão et al., 2007). However, other factors, such as fruit exposure, also
play an important role in grape IBMP content (Koch et al., 2012). It is frequently
observed that wines produced in warm climates from vines with dense canopies
can show a vegetal character. Rotundone levels in grapes, responsible for the
peppery aroma of Syrah wines, decrease with temperature (Scarlett et al., 2014).
Hence, wines produced from Syrah grapes will exhibit this characteristic less fre-
quently when temperatures increase. However, 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-dihydronaphtha-
lene (TDN), the compound responsible for petrol ﬂavors in wines produced from
Riesling grapes, increases with temperature during the berry-ripening phase
(Marais et al., 1992). Contrasting results are reported for aromas from the terpenol
family. Linalol content in berries is impaired at high temperatures, while no detri-
mental effect is shown on geraniol content (Duchêne, personal communication,
2015). Massoia lactone (5,6-dihydro-6-pentyl-2(2H)-pyranone) is the characteristic
aroma of ﬁgs and coconut that can be found in wines produced from overripe
fruit. In Bordeaux, Pons et al. (2011) found more massoia lactone in Pomerol
wines, produced from a majority of Merlot grapes, in warm vintages, whether
they are dry (2003) or wet (2007) (Figure 4).
Level of 5,6-Dihydro-6-Pentyl-2(2H)-Pyranone for Selected Vintages
Note: Level of
Fig. 4 - B/W online, B/W in print
5,6-dihydro-6-pentyl-2(2H)-pyranone (called massoia lactone) in wine produced in a Pomerol estate (Bordeaux) for the vin-
tages 1999 to 2008 (Pons et al., 2011).
156 The Impact of Climate Change on Viticulture and Wine Quality
V. The Impact of Increasing Water Deﬁcits on Vine Development, Fruit
Composition, and Wine Quality
A. Measurable Effects
Water balance modeling is an appropriate tool for estimating vine water deﬁcits in a
speciﬁc block or vintage. In Table 1, water deﬁcit was modeled for the Saint-Emilion
region (Bordeaux, France) according to Lebon et al. (2003) for 61 vintages from
Classiﬁcation of 61 Vintages from Driest to Wettest in Saint-Emilion
1 to 20) Vintage
1 to 20)
2005 −365.55 3/8 20 2002 −164.22 10/8 16
2010 −320.08 7/8 19 1967 −157.55 19/8 14
2011 −309.19 21/7 16 1976 −150.51 7/8 16
1989 −307.26 4/8 19 1984 −149.61 20/8 12
1990 −306.43 6/8 19 1955 −148.85 12/8 18
2012 −305.33 8/8 16 1981 −145.59 20/8 16
2003 −304.65 27/7 18 1953 −144.41 14/8 18
2000 −289.60 6/8 19 1974 −142.73 19/8 12
1986 −270.95 9/8 18 1994 −132.02 6/8 15
1998 −256.04 7/8 17 1952 −128.59 3/8 17
2004 −251.27 9/8 17 1980 −125.94 3/9 13
1995 −241.39 10/8 17 1983 −125.89 19/8 17
2009 −241.18 3/8 19 1975 −120.27 20/8 17
1962 −230.57 22/8 17 1957 −119.00 19/8 12
1964 −220.22 14/8 17 1982 −113.65 9/8 19
2008 −212.22 11/8 18 1972 −108.44 1/9 10
1997 −211.23 31/7 15 1959 −86.80 10/8 19
1988 −211.00 17/8 17 1977 −86.59 2/9 11
1970 −210.04 21/8 18 1993 −80.00 9/8 14
2007 −209.52 26/7 16 1954 −79.91 28/8 9
1961 −206.65 7/8 20 1971 −40.08 21/8 17
2001 −206.28 12/8 17 1956 −39.20 28/8 9
1991 −205.57 20/8 13 1968 −32.72 23/8 6
1985 −198.05 16/8 18 1958 −31.48 24/8 12
2006 −196.21 4/8 18 1969 −13.70 24/8 12
1987 −181.46 16/8 14 1973 −12.36 13/8 12
1979 −179.04 25/8 16 1965 −10.85 27/8 3
1999 −174.19 4/8 16 1963 −7.50 25/8 3
1996 −170.97 10/8 18 1992 −3.60 14/8 12
1978 −169.90 2/9 17 1960 −0.80 7/8 12
1966 −164.90 13/8 17
Note: Classiﬁcation of 61 vintages from the driest to the wettest by water balance modeling between April 1 and September 30 in the
Saint-Emilion region (Bordeaux, France). Water balance model according to Lebon et al. (2003). Parameters: Soil Water Holding
Capacity =0 mm; no stomatal regulation. Vintage quality ratings according to Bordeaux wine brokers Tasted and Lawton.
Cornelis van Leeuwen and Philippe Darriet 157
1952 to 2012. To emphasize the effect of climate in the model’s results, we used a soil
water holding capacity of 0 mm and ignored possible stomatal regulation. For this
reason, values are negative; the more negative the value, the dryer the vintage.
Over the period considered, vintages become dryer (Figure 5), not necessarily
because of decreased rainfall but more certainly because evapotranspiration increas-
es with higher temperatures. Among the 20 driest vintages in 61 years, 10 occurred in
the period 2000–2012. At the same time, overall quality of the vintage, as rated by the
Bordeaux wine brokers Tasted and Lawton (33000 Bordeaux, France), increases with
the level of water deﬁcit. The correlation between quality and water deﬁcit is highly
= 0.54, Figure 6). Over the same period, vintage quality is much less
correlated to the average temperature from April to October (R
= 0.26). In
Bordeaux, all dry years are good or great vintages. If modeled water deﬁcit is over
220 mm from April 1 to September 30, quality is equal to or higher than 16/20.
This does not mean that all wet vintages are necessarily poor vintages. Some wet vin-
tages have been saved by a particularly dry and sunny September. This analysis
shows that, over the past years, average vintage quality in Bordeaux improved,
not necessarily because of higher temperature but, rather, because of dryer produc-
tion conditions. However, these two factors are not completely independent, because
high temperatures induce high evapotranspiration. Water deﬁcit improves quality
potential for the production of red wine because it induces early cessation of shoot
growth, reduces berry size, and enhances skin phenolics in grapes (van Leeuwen
et al., 2009). These results from the Bordeaux area cannot automatically be repro-
duced in dryer regions, where yield and quality may suffer from excessive water
stress, in particular in soils with low water-holding capacity.
The impact of climate change on aromas and aroma precursors is compound
speciﬁc. Berry content in volatile thiole precursors is reduced by water stress,
while it can be increased by moderate water deﬁcit (Peyrot des Gachons et al.,
Evolution of Water Balance from 1952 to 2012 for Saint-Emilion
Note: Evolution of
Fig. 5 - Colour online, B/W in print
water balance from 1952 to 2012 calculated between April 1 and 3 September 0 for the Saint-Emilion region (France).
Water balance model according to Lebon et al. (2003). Parameters: Soil Water Holding Capacity = 0 mm; no stomatal regulation.
158 The Impact of Climate Change on Viticulture and Wine Quality
2005). This result was conﬁrmed for Riesling by Schüttler et al. (2011,2013) in semi-
controlled conditions (Figure 7). Volatile thiole content was not signiﬁcantly
modiﬁed by grape exposure, neither by leaf pulling pre-véraison nor by leaf
pulling at véraison. In this study, monoterpenes, another family of aroma com-
pounds, were not affected by vine water status.
Koundouras et al. (2006) reported increased norisoprenoid C13 levels in grapes
under water deﬁcit conditions. However, this might be an indirect effect linked to
Correlation Between Vintage Quality and Water Balance in Saint-Emilion
Note: Correlation between
Fig. 6 - Colour online, B/W in print
vintage quality in Bordeaux and water balance calculated between April 1 and September 30 for the vintages from
1952 to 2012 in Saint-Emilion (Bordeaux, France). Water balance model according to Lebon et al. (2003). Parameters: Soil Water Holding
Capacity = 0 mm; no stomatal regulation. Vintage quality ratings according to Bordeaux wine brokers Tasted and Lawton.
3-Sulfanylhexane-1-ol Content in Wine
Fig. 7 - B/W online, B/W in print
content in 3-sulfanylhexane-1-ol as modiﬁed by water status and grape exposure. (C) Control with high water deﬁcit ; (I) mod-
erately irrigated vines, resulting in mild water deﬁcit ; (IdB) irrigated vines with pre-véraison leaf pulling et (IdV) irrigated vines with leaf
pulling at véraison (Schüttler et al., 2011, 2013).
Cornelis van Leeuwen and Philippe Darriet 159
reduced vigor and increased bunch exposure. In dry vintages in the Bordeaux area,
Sauvignon blanc grapes contain more ﬂavane-3-ols and less glutathione (Figure 8).
Glutathione has anti-oxydative properties and increases aging potential in white
B. Predictable Effects in Climate Change Scenarios
Higher temperatures will increase evapotranspiration. Modiﬁcations in rainfall pat-
terns are difﬁcult to predict. It is likely that rainfall will be subject to great regional
and temporal variations. In some regions, rainfall will be higher, while other regions
might be experience longer periods of drought. Rainfall distribution over the year
might also be subject to major changes. Hence, it is difﬁcult to predict the impact
of climate change on water balance. Moreover, the reproductive cycle of the vine
will be compressed in warmer conditions. When the harvest takes place earlier in
the season (i.e., in August in the Northern Hemisphere), the most intense period
of water stress will occur after the harvest (Ollat et al., 2013). Despite these uncer-
tainties, most wine-growing regions will be subject to increased water deﬁcits
because of the weight of evapotranspiration in the water balance (see discussion in
companion paper, Schultz, 2016). The ﬁrst impact of water deﬁcit is reduced yield,
because of a smaller berry size (Ollat et al., 2002) and reduced bud fertility
(Guilpart et al., 2014). All wine-growing regions in the world will experience
reduced yields, although the magnitude might vary. The impact of increasing
water deﬁcits on wine quality will vary. In red wine production, water deﬁcit (but
not severe stress) enhances quality. For instance, in Bordeaux, to date overall
vintage quality has never been jeopardized by excessive water deﬁcit, even in an ex-
tremely dry vintage such as 2005, when rainfall was close to half that of a normal
year. As in Bordeaux, red wine quality will increase with developing water deﬁcits
in most Atlantic and northern wine-growing regions in Europe. In Mediterranean
or other very dry climates, quality might suffer from excessive water stress, which
Glutathione Content of Sauvignon Blanc Grape Must at Harvest
Fig. 8 - B/W online, B/W in print
content of Sauvignon blanc grape must at harvest in two Graves estates (Bordeaux) in vintages from 2002 to 2007 (Pons
et al., 2014).
160 The Impact of Climate Change on Viticulture and Wine Quality
can lead to impaired photosynthesis and leaf necrosis, in particular on soils with low
water-holding capacity. However, no serious study has been published on the fre-
quency of situations in which quality might beneﬁt from more water deﬁcits
versus those in which quality might suffer. This sort of investigation would be a
welcome contribution to the literature and very useful for growers in developing
VI. The Impact of Increasing Radiation on Vine Development, Fruit
Composition, and Wine Quality
A. Measurable Effects
Over the past few decades, radiation has been steadily increasing, in particular UV-B
radiation (280–320 nm). However, the extent of this phenomenon reported in the lit-
erature varies according to the region and the author. The UV-B radiation increase is
about 1–2% per decade, but can reach 8% per decade at higher altitudes (Schultz,
2000). Higher UV-B radiation enhances color, ﬂavonol, and tannin synthesis
in red grapes (Berli et al., 2008; Martinez-Lüscher et al., 2014), but can induce
off-ﬂavors in white grapes, such as o-Acetoaminophenone and 1,1,6-trimethyl-1,2-
dihydronaphthalene (TDN) (Schultz, 2000).
B. Predictable Effects
An increase in radiation can cause sunburn on grapes, particularly in the pre-
véraison phase. An increase in UV-B radiation might be favorable in red wine pro-
duction because of increased skin phenolics but can impair white wine quality and
induce atypical aging. The proportion of UV-B radiation is related to changes in
the ozone layer.
VII. Adaptations to Limit the Impact of Climate Change on Wine Quality
A. Adaptations to Increased Temperatures
Harvest is taking place earlier in the season as a result of increased temperatures.
This has increased wine quality in many regions, because grapes can be picked
when they are more mature. However, when ripeness is reached too early in the
season (July or August in the Northern Hemisphere, January or February in the
Southern Hemisphere) grape composition is unbalanced and wine quality is jeopar-
dized. This evolution is currently taking place, in particular in production regions
with warm climates. To avoid quality alterations caused by high temperatures
during fruit ripening, phenology should be delayed.
Plant material is a major tool for reaching this goal. Growers can use rootstocks
that induce a longer cycle, and clonal selection should be oriented toward
Cornelis van Leeuwen and Philippe Darriet 161
late-ripening clones. These adaptations will not change wine typicity. Together, they
can delay ripeness by approximately seven to ten days. Over the long term, ripeness
can be delayed much more by the use of late-ripening varieties. Late-ripening vari-
eties can be found among the traditional varieties in some wine-growing regions.
This is the case with Cabernet-Sauvignon in Bordeaux and Mourvèdre in
Languedoc-Roussillon (France). When the climate becomes too warm for Merlot
in Bordeaux and for Syrah in Languedoc, the proportion of Cabernet-Sauvignon
and Mourvèdre, respectively, can be increased in these regions, without altering
the wine style. In the long run, it might be necessary to use nonlocal varieties.
These varieties must be chosen in order to change the wine style produced in each
region as little as possible. This adaptation is obviously easier to implement in
New World wine-growing regions than in European countries with traditional appel-
lations. Today, in these appellations, growers can only use local varieties. It might be
worthwhile to start experimenting with a small proportion of nonlocal varieties, in
order to have accumulated enough experience by the time a major change in varieties
Training systems can be modiﬁed to delay phenology. Higher trunks can reduce
the temperature in the bunch zone and, in particular, limit maximum temperatures
on dry and stony soils. Late pruning (end of February or March in the Northern
Hemisphere) delays bud break and subsequent phenological stages. Low leaf area:
fruit weight ratios delay véraison (Parker et al., 2014). However, it can have a neg-
ative impact on fruit composition and, in particular, reduce the tannin and anthocy-
anin content in grape berries. These are key compounds in red wine quality.
Wine-growing regions can be moved to higher latitudes, and in mountainous
regions, vineyards can be moved to higher altitudes. However, these adaptations
have a high social and economic cost. Regions located at high latitudes, which
might currently be marginal for wine production, will become suitable for grape
growing. Several studies focus on when and where this is likely to happen (Ferrise
et al., 2016; Fraga et al., 2012; Hannah et al., 2013; Roehrdanz and Hannah,
2016). The authors—in particular, Hannah and colleagues—also model the decrease
in suitability of current wine-growing regions. However, they seem to underestimate
possible adaptation, which can be implemented by growers to maintain high-quality
wine production in warmer temperatures (van Leeuwen et al., 2013). When varia-
tions in altitude are signiﬁcant in the production region, which is the case, for in-
stance, in the Douro region (port wine production), grapevine can be planted at
higher elevations (Jones and Alves, 2012). Temperatures decrease by 0.65 °C per
100 m gain in elevation.
B. Adaptations to Increased Water Deﬁcits
The choice of plant material is a major tool to adapt vineyards to greater water
deﬁcits. Rootstock resistance to water deﬁcits is highly variable (Carbonneau,
1985). The genetic basis of these differences is currently under investigation
162 The Impact of Climate Change on Viticulture and Wine Quality
(Marguerit et al., 2012). Some existing rootstocks, like 140 Ruggeri or 110 Richter,
are highly resistant to drought. One of the priorities of today’s viticultural research is
to create new rootstocks that show even greater drought resistance. In the same way,
large differences in drought tolerance exist among grapevine varieties (Albuquerque,
1993; see also discussion in companion paper, Gambetta, 2016). Mediterranean va-
rieties, such as Grenache or Carignan, are better adapted to dry conditions than
Atlantic varieties, such as Merlot or Sauvignon blanc. The great advantage of adapt-
ing vineyards to increased drought stress through the choice of plant material (root-
stock and variety) is that it is environmentally friendly and does not increase
Training systems also vary with respect to their impact on water consumption by
the vines. In the Mediterranean region, over centuries growers have developed a
training system that has great drought-resistant performance: the so-called gobelet
(Mediterranean bush vines). This system limits vine water use by combining low
leaf area on a per-hectare basis (which means less transpiration) and relatively low
yields (lower need for photosynthesis). The low yield does not negatively affect eco-
nomic sustainability, because the production costs per hectare are low. There is no
trellis to set up and maintain, and no shoot positioning has to be carried out.
Hence, grapes are produced at reasonably low cost per kilogram. The main draw-
back of this system is that it makes harvesting by machine very difﬁcult. The
paradox is that, for this reason, many drought- resistant gobelet vineyards are
being pulled up just when it should be a priority to focus on drought resistance
because of climate change. One of today’s research priorities should be the develop-
ment of a mechanical harvester that is able to harvest gobelet vineyards. Any other
training system that limits leaf area per hectare increases drought resistance.
However, the leaf area: fruit weight ratio should not be reduced to maintain
quality. Hence, a lower leaf area per hectare will either decrease yield (if the ratio
is maintained) or quality (if the yield is maintained).
Vine water status is related both to climatic factors (rainfall and ET
) and soil-
related factors (soil water-holding capacity [SWHC]). Increased climatic dryness,
whether through a reduction in rainfall or an increase in ET
, can be compensated
for by an increase in the SWHC. In dry regions, or regions exposed to increased
drought, the development of vineyards on soils with at least a moderate SWHC
can limit the negative impact of excessive water stress, as long as winter rains is sufﬁ-
cient to replenish the soil water storage capacity.
Irrigation is also a way to avoid excessive drought stress. However, it should not be
considered the ﬁrst option when adapting a vineyard to increased water deﬁcits.
Unlike the other solutions proposed here, irrigation has an economic, environmen-
tal, and social cost. When water is becoming increasingly scarce, the irrigation of a
drought-resistant plant such as vines should not be a priority. In many irrigated
regions, in particular in California and Australia, access to irrigation water has
become a serious issue. Moreover, irrigation can lead salt to build up in vineyard
soils, when winter rain is insufﬁcient for leaching it out of the soil. Vines are
Cornelis van Leeuwen and Philippe Darriet 163
highly sensitive to salt, so its buildup can make soils unsuitable for grape production.
When irrigation is the only option for maintaining vineyards in a given area, deﬁcit
irrigation should be implemented, both to save water and to optimize grape quality
C. Adaptations to High Radiation Levels
Excess radiation exposure can cause sunburn. A high proportion of UV-B radiation
is favorable to synthesis of skin phenolics (color, tannin) but can impair white wine
quality through the development of off-ﬂavors. High-altitude vineyards are affected
more than vineyards at sea level. The detrimental impact of high radiation can be
limited by using adapted training systems or canopy management. The exposure
of grapes can be limited through reduced hedging and leaf pulling. Special nets
that can ﬁlter UV-B radiation have also been developed and can be used to
protect the bunch zone.
Climate change is a major challenge for viticulture in the coming decades. In the recent
past, wine quality has increased in most wine-growing regions because of higher tem-
peratures and more frequent water deﬁcits while yields have decreased. If the tendency
continues, quality might be negatively affected in the near future. Growers need to im-
plement adaptive strategies to continue the production of high-quality wines at eco-
nomically acceptable yields in a warmer and dryer climate. Among various options,
the use of adapted plant material is one of the better tools, because it has the advantage
of being environmentally friendly and cost effective.
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