Adaptability of grapevines to climate change: characterization of phenology and sugar accumulation of 50 varieties, under hot climate conditions

Climate is the major factor influencing the dynamics of the vegetative cycle and can determine the timing of phenological periods. Knowledge of the phenology of varieties, their chronological duration, and thermal requirements, allows not only for the better management of interventions in the vineyard, but also to predict the varieties’ behaviour in a scenario of climate change, giving the wine producer the possibility of selecting the grape varieties that are best adapted to the climatic conditions of a certain terroir. In 2014, Symington Family Estates, Vinhos, established two grape variety libraries in two different places with distinctive climate conditions (Douro Superior, and Cima Corgo), with the commitment of contributing to a deeper agronomic and oenological understanding of some grape varieties, in hot climate conditions. In these research vineyards are represented local varieties that are important in the regional and national viticulture, but also others that have over time been forgotten — as well as five international reference cultivars. From 2017 to 2021, phenological observations have been made three times a week, following a defined protocol, to determine the average dates of budbreak, flowering and veraison. With the climate data of each location, the thermal requirements of each variety and the chronological duration of each phase have been calculated. During maturation, berry samples have been gathered weekly to study the dynamics of sugar accumulation, between other parameters. The data was analysed applying phenological and sugar accumulation models available in literature. The results obtained show significant differences between the varieties over several parameters, from the chronological duration and thermal requirements to complete the various stages of development, to the differences between the two locations, confirming the influence of the climate on phenology and the stages of maturation, in these specific conditions.

Authors: Joana Valente, Charles Symington, Pedro Leal da Costa, Frank Steve Rogerson, Ricardo Silva and Fernando Alves

Symington Family Estates, Vinhos S.A., Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

Email: joana.valente@symington.com

Keywords: adaptation, climate change, Douro region, phenology, Vitis vinífera L.

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