Climate change: the impact on viticulture

Published on 10/01/2018

On 14 December 2017, two researchers from the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) attended CEFOS in Remich, Luxembourg, taking part in a conference on viticulture in the Grande Région. Focusing on wine tourism in the Grande Région and on climate change and invasive species in viticulture, LIST contributed the expertise it has accumulated in the field through work carried out as part of the TerroirFuture project. Launched in April 2016 and funded by the Institut Viti-Vinicole (IVV), this project seeks to analyse the impact of climate change on viticulture and on the specific characteristics of wine in the region bearing the Controlled Designation of Origin (Appellation d’Origine Protégee - AOP) "Moselle Luxembourgeoise". For this reason the researchers are aiming specifically to evaluate the risks and any adaptation strategies arising as a result of climate change. They want to nurture the economic success of grape growing in this AOP region and to protect its long-term future in a changing climate.

The quality and health of vines are central concerns

Researchers at LIST have been raising the awareness of professionals in the sector of the impact of climate change on viticulture. Climatic conditions, in particular temperature, have a determining influence on the growth of vines throughout their life cycle. Their analysis and research have confirmed that climate change is a palpable reality in Luxembourg. Climate change has consequences for the cultivation of vines: it makes it possible to produce higher quality wines! On the other hand, it poses new challenges for grape growers: increasing heat, more frequent extreme weather events, the appearance of new invasive species, changing characteristics of wine, etc.

What's more, the combination of earlier grape development and higher observed temperatures during the vine's ripening phase might result in a change in the style of the wine and threaten the health of the grapes themselves, and may therefore affect winemakers' end product. In order to ensure the long-term economic viability of viticulture in Luxembourg, winemakers might implement adaptation strategies to delay the ripening of the grapes. LIST’s researchers are currently testing adaptation strategies to move vineyards to cooler regions (higher altitudes, more northerly locations, lower exposure).

Activities in support of farmers and grape growers

LIST is working with agriculture and viticulture professionals who need to meet new needs and higher food quality and safety requirements, while also coping with intense competition and ever-stricter regulations when it comes to protecting resources and the environment, and climate change. In December 2017, the Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Consumer Protection reaffirmed its faith in LIST to help these types of businesses by signing a framework agreement.

Analysis of regular meteorological data

Working with MeteoLux and the Administration des Services Techniques de l'Agriculture (ASTA), LIST publishes a quarterly analysis of the meteorological data gathered as part of long-term monitoring of hydroclimatic variables in Luxembourg. This work is being carried out at its climate and environment monitoring centre.
>> The latest report covering autumn 2017 can be downloaded via the related news item

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Dr Jürgen JUNK
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