Irrigation and terroir: two opposite concepts? Point of view of international experts and french consumers

At long term, qualitative irrigation seems to be the most systematic, if not the best, cultural practice for dealing with climate change and yield increases without decrease grape quality. Given this backdrop, the acceptance or irrigation within the frameworks of the terroir definition takes a central place. Consistently, the objective of this work is to evaluate this compatibility. Since irrigation is basically a social practice, it is important to understand it from a sociological point of view.

To meet this commitment, a qualitative questionnaire was implemented: standard personal interviews with no frequency (subject surveyed once) with a multi-topic research (omnibus research). 18 participants to the 19th GiESCO Meeting were selected as participants to the questionnaire. In a second instance, a quantitative questionnaire was evaluated: depth or intensive questionnaire with close-ended questions. In parallel, 512 French wine consumers participate to an Internet survey. This way, subject was approached from a twofold perspective: qualified researchers and French wine regular consumers.

Results show that surveyed expert seems to agree (in 63% of cases) with the idea of not changing a terroir by adding water under a controlled management of the water status in the vine. Level of agreement seems to be related with expert’s provenance and therefore expert’s observations in their local weather. Finally, concerning consumer’s approach, the level of implication in wine seems to play a role in accepting irrigation; consumers not implicated on wine don’t have a formed opinion whereas implicated consumers showed both; for and against a reasoned irrigation as a tool to deal against climate change. Moreover, within qualified consumers, age could serve for explaining the acceptance of irrigation: young (≤35 years old) and medium consumers (from 36 to 64 years old) were more likely to accept irrigation and a different grape variety to preserve wine quality.

Authors: Santiago ALVAREZ GEI (1,2), Hernán OJEDA (1), Cécile COULON-LEROY (2)

(1) INRA, UE999 Pech Rouge, F-11430 Gruissan, France
(2) Unité GRAPPE, ESA, INRA, Comue UBL, 55 rue Rabelais BP 30748, F-49007 Angers, France

Keywords: Irrigation, Terroir, International experts, French consumers

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