Harvest dates, climate, and viticultural region zoning in Greece

Climate is clearly one of the most important factors in the success of all agricultural systems, influencing whether a crop is suitable to a given region, largely controlling crop production and quality, and ultimately driving economic sustainability. Today many assessments of a region’s climate comes from a combination of station and spatial climate data analyses that facilitate the evaluation of the general suitability for viticulture and potential wine styles, allows for comparisons between wine regions, and offers growers a measure of assessing appropriate cultivars and sites.

This research combines a spatial climate analysis in Greece with a temporal station and harvest date analysis in important Greek wine regions. The results show predominately warm to hot climate suitability in Greece, comparable to many other regions worldwide. While many viticulture regions have one primary class of suitability, variability of climate within regions can be significant, with some regions containing two to four climate classes, typically based on elevation or distance to the coast, making them suitable for a greater range of cultivars. For the temporal analysis the eight locations studied had marked differences in their general climatic characteristics, mainly between mainland and island areas. While trends varied for the regions, the general response was for greater increases in minimum temperatures compared to maximum temperatures, which resulted in significant trends in growing degree-days in most locations.

Harvest dates trended earlier in five out of the eight regions, and were mainly driven by changes in minimum temperatures. Significant trends in climate parameters and viticulture–climate relationships were more evident for island regions when compared to mainland locations. Moreover, areas with late ripening varieties were shown to be less sensitive to climate changes. 

Authors: Jon Anderson (1), Paraskevi Dimou (2), Gregory V. Jones (1), Dionissios Kalivas (2), George Koufos (3), Theodoros Mavromatis (4), Stefanos Koundouras (5), and Nikolaos M. Fyllas (6) 

(1) Department of Environmental Studies, Southern Oregon University, Ashland, OR, USA 
(2) Department of Land Resources and Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural University of Athens, Greece 
(3) Department of Environment, University of the Aegean, Mitilini, Greece 
(4) Department of Meteorology-Climatology, School of Geology, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece 
(5) Laboratory of Viticulture, School of Agriculture, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece 
(6) Department of Ecology and Systematics, Faculty of Biology, University of Athens, Athens, Greece 

Email: gjones@sou.edu 

Keywords: Greece, climate, viticulture, wine, harvest dates 

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