OENO IVAS 2019 banner
IVES 9 IVES Conference Series 9 Coming of age: do old vines actually produce berries with higher enological potential than young vines? A case study on the Riesling cultivar

Coming of age: do old vines actually produce berries with higher enological potential than young vines? A case study on the Riesling cultivar


Consumers and the wine industry tend to agree on the ability of old vines to produce fruit that allows the production of wine of superior character. However, despite past and ongoing research, objective evidence of this point of view is still debated and studies on robust, specifically dedicated plots are scarce.

Thus the impact of grapevine age on berry oenological potential and wine quality remains an open question. To try to objectively address the issue, a unique vineyard was established at Geisenheim University, Germany. It was planted in 1971 with cv. Riesling grafted on 5C Teleki. In 1995 and 2012, several rows were uprooted and replanted with the same rootstock/scion combination, resulting in a vineyard with alternate rows of identical plant material, but with different planting dates. The parameters of technical maturity and grape composition at harvest were analyzed during seasons 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 combining HPLC and enzymatic methods. Separate micro-vinifications were made for each age group and wine composition was analyzed by a combination of 1H-NMR and SPE-GC-MS.

The results showed that technical maturity parameters (TSS, TA, must pH) were not significantly different across the three grapevine age groups. Berry composition showed little differences in quality-relevant metabolite contents, with the noticeable exceptions of α-amino acid, skin flavonols, free and bound monoterpene and norisoprenoid amounts that were significantly higher in vines planted in 2012 compared to older vines, but only in seasons 2014 and 2015 where soil management practices of the young vines differed. Berries from vines planted in 1971 and 1995 did not exhibit significant differences in berry composition, throughout the four seasons. Wine chemical analysis complemented and confirmed results obtained in berry composition. Wine made from grapes produced by vines planted in 2012 had higher terpene and norisoprenoid amounts, compared to wines made with grapes from the two other vines groups, but only for the 2014 and 2015 vintages. Wines from grapes produced by vines planted in 1971 and 1995 did not exhibit significant differences in composition throughout the four seasons.


In conclusion, even though vines planted in 2012 exhibits significant differences in berry and wine composition for their two first vintages compared to older ones, these differences appeared to vanished once the vines were fully established and soil management practices became uniform.


This work was supported by a PhD grant to K. Bou Nader from the Forschungsring Deutscher Weinbau.


Publication date: June 23, 2020

Issue: OENO IVAS 2019

Type: Article


Khalil Bou Nader (1, 2), Ghislaine Hilbert (1), Doris Rauhut (3), Christel Renaud (1), Otmar Löhnertz (4), Claus-Dieter Patz (5), Rainer Jung (6), Hans-Reiner Schultz (7), Manfred Stoll (2), Eric Gomes (1) 

1 UMR EGFV, Bordeaux Sciences Agro, INRA, Université de Bordeaux, ISVV, Villenave d’Ornon, France 
2 Hochschule Geisenheim University (HGU), Department of General and Organic Viticulture,, Von-Lade-Str. 1, 65366, Geisenheim, Germany 
3 Hochschule Geisenheim University (HGU), Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry, Von-Lade-Str. 1, 65366, Geisenheim, Germany 
4 Hochschule Geisenheim University (HGU), Department of Soil Sciences and Plant Nutrition 
5 Hochschule Geisenheim University (HGU), Department of Beverage Sciences, Von-Lade-Str. 1, 65366, Geisenheim, Germany 
6 Hochschule Geisenheim University (HGU), Department of Oenology, Von-Lade-Str. 1, 65366, Geisenheim, Germany 
7 Hochschule Geisenheim University (HGU), Presidency; Von-Lade-Str. 1, 65366, Geisenheim, Germany

Contact the author


Grapevine age, vineyard management, berry composition, primary and secondary metabolites


IVES Conference Series | OENO IVAS 2019


Related articles…

Swiss program for the creation of fungal disease resistant grape varieties in Switzerland

Grapevine breeding is part of the research program of Agroscope in Switzerland since 1965. From 1965 to 1995, the aim of the Vitis vinifera crosses was to obtain a high resistance to grey rot (Botrytis cinerea), one of the most virulent fungal pathogens in the Swiss vineyard. In 2021, the grape varieties released from this first breeding program covered 936 ha of the 15’000 ha of the Swiss vineyard.
In 1996, a second breeding program aimed at obtaining, by classical interspecific hybridization, grape varieties resistant to downy mildew (Plasmopara viticola) and powdery mildew (Erisyphe necator) and less sensitive to grey rot (Botrytis cinerea). In order to accelerate and make the selection process more reliable, an early biochemical test was developed based on the natural defense mechanisms of the vine against downy mildew (stilbene phytoalexins). The synthesis of stilbenes (i.e., resveratrol and its oxidized dimers - and -viniférine) and pterostilbenes (methylated derivative) is among the most efficient induced defense mechanisms of grapevine against fungal pathogens on both the leaves and the clusters.

Heatwaves impacts on grapevine physiology, berry chemistry & wine quality

Climate change impacts on both yields and quality have increased over the past decades, with the effects of extreme climate events having the most dramatic and obvious impacts. Increasing length and intensity of heatwaves associated with increased water stress necessitates a reevaluation of climate change responses of grapevine and, ultimately, a reconsideration of vineyard management practices under future conditions. Here we summarize results from a three-year field trial manipulating irrigation prior to and during heatwave events to assess impacts of water application rates on vine health and physiology, berry chemistry, and wine quality. We also highlight potential mitigation strategies for extreme heat, both in terms of water application, as well as other cultural practices that could be widely applicable.

Could intermittent shading, as produced in agrivoltaics, mitigate global warming effects on grapevine?

Global warning increases evaporative demand and accelerates grapevine phenology. As a consequence, the ripening phase shifts to warmer and drier periods. This results in lower acidity and higher sugar levels in berries, yielding too alcoholic wines with altered organoleptic properties. Agrivoltaics, which combines crop and renewable energy production on the same land using photovoltaic panels, emerged as a promising innovation to counteract these impacts by partially shading the plants.

Selected ion flow tube mass spectrometry: a promising technology for the high throughput phenotyping of grape berry volatilome

Wine grapes breeding has been concentrating a lot of efforts within the grape research community over the last decade. The quick phenotyping of genotype quality traits including aroma composition remains challenging. Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS), a technology first available in 2008 and developing rapidly, could be particularly valuable for this usage. The aims of this study were i) to use SIFT-MS, to analyze the whole volatilome from different grape varieties, ii) to assess the ability of this technology to discriminate varieties according to their grape aroma composition, and iii) to study the stability of SIFT-MS signal over maturation to define a sampling strategy.

VITIGEOSS Business Service: Task scheduling optimization in vineyards

Agriculture plantations are complex systems whose performance critically depends on the execution of several types of tasks with precise timing and efficiency to respond to different external factors. This is particularly true for orchards like vineyards, which need to be strictly monitored and regulated, as they are sensitive to diverse types of pests, and climate conditions. In these environments, managing and optimally scheduling the available work force and resources is not trivial and is usually done by teams of senior managers based on their experience. In this regard, having a baseline schedule could help them in the decision process and improve their results, in terms of time and resources spent.