AGEBA Recovery and promotion of the ancient germplasm of the Barbera vine for adaptation to climate change
Environmental change on a global scale is currently regarded as one of the most serious environmental, social and economic challenges facing the world. Economically significant agricultural activities, such as viticulture, are affected by climate change. In order to avoid negative effects in terms of yield, composition and typicality of production with a strong local identity, viticulture has to adapt in some way to climate change. Rising temperatures bring forward the phenological phases and increase the risk of frost damage in spring, prolong the vegetative cycle and influence the composition of the grapes, causing high sugar content, aggressive tannins, low organic acid and colouring substance content and loss of aroma. The cultivation of the Barbera grape variety and the production of the resulting wines represent not only an economic element of the territory, but also a historical-cultural heritage and an identifying factor of Piedmont. Assuming that the cultivation of Barbera will be maintained in the same environment where it has been present for centuries, it is possible to intervene with long-term solutions at genetic level and with more flexible short-term solutions within the scope of cultivation techniques.
To contrast or at least mitigate the effects of climate change and its impact on the Barbera grape, as the high and sometimes extreme summer temperatures cause a sharp increase in alcoholic strength and a significant drop in acidity in Barbera wines, making it difficult to manage the vinification and consumption of excessively alcoholic products. To study and recover the genetic heritage of old Barbera vine stocks, also with a view to verifying their ability to adapt to the new climatic conditions in spring and summer.
The aim of the pilot project is to select and study old vines from the period before the Barbera vine was cloned, in order to identify plants that are capable of resisting the climate change in progress. The following study focuses on analysing the genetic heritage of these “old stocks” and experimenting with innovative cultivation techniques to contrast or at least mitigate the impacts of climate change on the grape variety in question.
Description of innovation
The strongest and most structural approach is undoubtedly genetic, and it exploits the vast intra-varietal variability of the Barbera vine cultivated in the Asti, Alessandria and Monferrato areas. This promotes resilience instead of managing risks. Resilience is the best way to minimise the impact of adverse events (climate change, in this case) with the aim of achieving a long-term result.
The innovative idea of the project is to address the issue of climate change from a genetic point of view, assessing the intra-varietal variability of the Barbera vine, using frontier molecular methodology (Genotyping by Sequencing) associated with detailed phenotyping, in order to identify genotypes that can adapt to climate change and are more resistant to biotic and abiotic agents as well as less able to accumulate sugars in the berry.
Individual Barbera vines, planted before clonal selection (up to the 1970s), possessing useful characteristics for adapting to climate change and free from the main viral diseases, Flavescence dorée and bois noir, will be identified and enhanced. At the same time, temporary interventions (flexible or short-term) will be included in the activities envisaged in this project. To be precise, the treatment of leaves in commercial Barbera vineyards with new biostimulants based on protein hydrolysates of plant origin (polypeptides and amino acids) will be experimented with, only at times of greatest thermal and water stress on the plant, in order to mitigate the negative effects. The technique of late pruning (in spring) will be validated in order to postpone the budding of the vine and, consequently, reduce the risk of damage due to increasingly frequent spring frosts and delaying the ripening of the grapes.
Consorzio Barbera d’Asti e Vini del Monferrato
Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore
Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia Agraria – Centro di Ricerca Viticoltura Ed Enologia (CREA-VE)
Istituto di Istruzione Secondaria Superiore “Giovanni Penna”
BERSANO VIGNETI SRL SOCIETA’ AGRICOLA
MICHELE CHIARLO S.R.L.
AGRICOLA DELLAVALLE di DANIELE DELLAVALLE
AZIENDA AGRICOLA COCITO DOVILIO
AZIENDA AGRICOLA CASCINA GASPARDA DI SALVANESCHI PIETRO