Main content area

Climate change impact on French vineyards as predicted by models

Pieri, P., Lebon, E., Brisson, N.
Acta horticulturae 2012 no.931 pp. 29-37
air temperature, climate, climate change, climate models, cultivars, deficit irrigation, grapes, phenolic compounds, phenology, rain, soil, vines, vineyards, viticulture, water balance, water stress, wine quality, winemaking, France
Climate change in viticulture-oriented regions of France is expected to significantly increase temperatures and decrease rainfall. Therefore, phenology, physiological processes, vine water status and grape maturation conditions might all be modified thoroughly, with important consequences on wine production. Coupling ecophysiological models of vineyard function to regionalized outputs of global climate models is the only available way to forecast the impact of climate change on viticulture. Within the Climator project, this approach was developed by using a vine water balance model (BHV) at several locations in France, with 3 vine cultivars ('Chardonnay', 'Merlot' and 'Grenache'), two planting densities (high and low density), 3 soils (low to high water reserve) and two management practices (rain fed/irrigation). Uncertainties in impact results were assessed from comparing different simulated climate series up to the year 2100. The results show that the whole phenological calendar will likely be shifted towards earlier times by 20-40 days and, conversely, new areas in northern France will become well suited to viticulture. A slight increase in vine water stress may come into sight for the next 50 years, but it should easily be kept under control by adapted techniques such as planting density, soil surface management, or controlled deficit irrigation. The most harmful consequence of climate change for wine quality might be the long term warming of maturation conditions. As a result of earlier phenology combined to global air temperature increase, temperature rise during the veraison-maturation period should exceed by far (up to 6-8°C) the average warming. Detrimental consequences on essential grape components such as aromas and phenolics should therefore be expected, with little means to cope with it.