COS 174-7 - Adapting wine to climate change: Same regions, different varieties

Friday, August 11, 2017: 10:10 AM
D129-130, Oregon Convention Center
Ignacio Morales-Castilla, Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA and Elizabeth Wolkovich, Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Climate change is expected to negatively affect crops due to mismatches between current climatic conditions, to which plant phenology is adapted, and future climatic conditions. Previous research on winegrapes (Vitis vinifera subsp. vinifera) has projected declines in production within winegrowing regions and identified geographic areas that may become suitable for future winegrape production. Beyond moving winegrowing regions to more suitable areas, a less explored alternative is to exploit existing winegrape diversity. The over 1,000 planted varieties differ in their phenology and thus, may differ in their ability to withstand changing climatic conditions. Here we ask how 10 common winegrape varieties will cope with climate change globally, both within and outside current winegrowing regions. We do so by first, parameterizing phenology models for each variety to current climatic conditions utilizing an unprecedented dataset on winegrape phenology within France and Germany. Following, we validate the models and make predictions for future phenology (i.e. 2080-2100) based on 30 different global circulation projections of future climate. This allows us to identify the varieties that will be more suited to grow in certain regions, and detect which varieties would be critically affected by changes in climate within the regions where they are currently planted.


Our findings reveal idiosyncratic responses to climate change across the studied varieties. While our models predict an advancement in the phenology of all varieties, their suitability to continue growing depends on the magnitude of the thermal regime change in each winegrowing region. Overall, cold-adapted varieties (e.g. Pinot noir) grown in the New World, are predicted to undergo the most critical changes in their phenology. In contrast, warm-adapted varieties could thrive in growing regions where they are not currently planted. Two conclusions stem from these findings. First, a shift in planted winegrape varieties arises as a potential solution to adapt winegrowing regions to future climate regimes. Second, the same principles would apply to other crops. Accounting for the phenological variability – contained within the genetic diversity – of agricultural species offers a way to pinpoint varieties of future interest and better anticipate the outcomes of climate change on agriculture.