Agriculturae Conspectus Scientificus, Vol 66, No 1 (2001)

Sustainable Viticulture: Current Practices and Future Developments

Lorenzo CORINO, Antonio CALO

Pages: 3-11


Since ancient times, viticulture has been developing in two opposite trends: quality and quantity. The origin of this paradox can be found in the Greek and Roman period and raises from the interaction between technical and cultural factors. Rather fertile grape varieties conducted on high training system have been chosen for high yield in suitable productive areas. In opposite parsimonious varieties together with lower training systems were used in more difficult environments.
The dualism between productivity and quality which marked the history, the traditions and the customs of different regions has hardly been able to find a positive evolution, just because of this combination of social factors.
In the next ten years, viticulture will not be very different from today's one and it is very likely that the economic models will be more and more oriented toward the valorisation of terroir (Europe) or the emphasis on variety (New World). In the first case, the vineyard and the wine are part of a system trying to keep in balance social, environmental and economical components. When the protagonist is the grape variety, there is a much more simple and clearer message for the consumer; in this case the reputation of some noble varieties open new markets.
Grapegrowing, winemaking and wine marketing are becoming more and more part of the same and complete concept.
The grape growing techniques which have been dominating the last 50 years (soil cultivation, fertilisation, irrigation, etc...) have favoured an augmentation of the vigour with direct effect on the enological quality of grape and overall on the plant perenniality which has been dramatically reduced. World-wide a worrying increase of vine diseases (especially wood diseases) is also observed.
Better balance between vegetation and production should be found with a better plant management (i.e. less and better wound on the plant). Soil also should be regarded with more attention to avoid further lost in production capacity, erosion problems, pollution with alien molecules, destruction of the structure or damage to the biomassa balance. Pest control will have to enter deeper into an integrated management of the vineyard with better attention toward the secondary effects on humans and environment.
To progress however, it is necessary to improve the agronomic knowledge and general understanding of viticulture and it's environment.


viticulture; terroir; economic model; sustainable

Full Text: PDF