The climate is revolutionizing the vineyards

The harvest, which is starting, sounds like a deliverance. In the vineyards, the year 2021 has been appalling. The Ministry of Agriculture expects 30% crop losses on average, but in Burgundy or Beaujolais, we expect a harvest cut by half. And, in some areas, 2021 is simply a blank year. Zero grapes to harvest.

The climate will have proved that it alone presides. In early spring, a heat wave encouraged the emergence of the buds, immediately destroyed by a devastating frost in almost all the vines in France. Those who survived, those who hatched later, suffered, depending on the region, other insults. The abundant rains at the beginning of summer caused mildew and powdery mildew to proliferate, as rarely. In the South, it was rather the drought that struck. When it wasn’t for the fires last month.

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The timing was therefore perfect for the wine industry to present to the ministry, on August 26, its strategy for adapting to climate change. Signed by FranceAgriMer, the National Institute of Origin and Quality (Inao) and the French Institute of Vine and Wine (IFV), it details 40 priority actions to safeguard vineyards and their appellations. Ideas from the Laccave project, led by teams from the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (Inrae).

The advantages of hybrid grape varieties

For winegrowers, climate change is now experienced on a daily basis. And command to react. Quick. Faced with the vagaries of the weather, hybrid grape varieties (results of crosses) have undeniable advantages. Some escape frost, especially those planted in Sweden or Canada. Others are resistant to disease and make it possible to reduce or even eliminate phytosanitary treatments. And allow you to dream of planting vines in soils that are not very suitable from a climatic point of view.

On the other hand, the aromatic and taste potential of these recently created grape varieties remains to be refined. “France was reluctant to use hybrid grape varieties. In Montpellier as in Colmar, INRAE ​​experiments were carried out almost in secret. We are only in the early stages ”, notes Gilles de Revel, researcher and deputy director of the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences (ISVV).

“In a few decades, it will be too hot in Bordeaux for Merlot. »Gilles de Revel, researcher

The time to give birth to the vines, to plant them and to be able to make wine from them, it takes at least fifteen years. Is it better to change grape variety or simply terroir? Everything is possible. “We are in the midst of upheaval, as at the time of the phylloxera crisis, which destroyed almost the entire vineyard”, resumes the researcher. In any case, there is an emergency. Gilles de Revel is sure of it, “In a few decades, it will be too hot in Bordeaux for Merlot”. Currently, it covers half of the vineyard.

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