Which grape varieties to grow in a drier climate?

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A new study by INRAE, a French research institute, in collaboration with the universities of Bordeaux and Québec, shows the tolerance of different grapes to drought. Coping with dry weather is a grape characteristic that is becoming increasingly important.

The vines in the experiment were grown in greenhouses under similar environmental conditions to evaluate their resistance to water stress. Ugni blanc and chardonnay were among the least resistant to drought. Pinot noir, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, on the other hand, coped well with water stress. (What will Burgundy conclude from that?)

It is not certain that it is the regions with the driest climate that are in trouble, says the study. Instead, the important thing is that the growers are not too dependent on one grape variety, as is the case in e.g. Poitou–Charentes (making cognac but also wines), with its ugni blanc or Marlborough with its sauvignon blanc.

The study recommends that winegrowers plant several different grape varieties. When there is a drought, they will react differently and thereby limit losses. Another important and worrying conclusion of the study: Several of the hybrids developed to have good tolerance to fungal diseases (sometimes called “piwi”) often do not cope with water stress very well.

Read more: winebusiness

A grapevine leaf badly affected by mildiou in a vineyard in Bordeaux at harvest time
A grapevine leaf badly affected by mildiou in a vineyard in Bordeaux at harvest time, copyright BKWine Photography
A very warm and sunny summer day
A very warm and sunny summer day, copyright BKWine Photography

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