The effects of climate change on vineyards are escalating
LACCAVE research confirms that the effects of climate change are growing in intensity: earlier vine development increases vulnerability to spring frosts (as in 2021) and brings forward the harvest dates to the middle of the summer, amplifying temperature increases for this sensitive period; water stress is more pronounced in the south of France, with observable effects on yields; the characteristics of wines are evolving, with higher alcohol content, lower acidity and changes in aroma; and new regions are becoming favourable for vine planting, as reported for example in a study carried out by LACCAVE on the region of Brittany. Many other impacts must also be taken into account, in particular damage caused by extreme events (crop destruction, increased erosion), fires, and increased pressure from pests and pathogens in the wettest years and regions. The sustainability of French viticulture is therefore under threat, even if all vineyards around the globe are facing similar upheavals.
Multiple adaptation levers exist, testing of which needs to accelerate
Technical and structural solutions are possible and have already been tested. The LACCAVE project has made it possible to analyse the conditions for their implementation.
The conservation and improvement of wine-growing soils is critical to support the resilience of vineyards, by combining controlled sodding, the addition of organic matter (e.g. compost, ground material, conservation grazing) and anti-erosion measures, for example.
Renewal and diversification of plant material is also a major option, allowing the planting of later developing grape variety/rootstock pairs that are resistant to drought and higher temperatures and produce less sugar and more acidity. This option concerns heirloom varieties and those grown in other regions, as well as new ones. To this end, variety collections, individual and collaborative trials, and observation networks must be supported and coordinated to promote information sharing.
Water management must be designed in a systemic way, according to the type of wine, grape variety and wine growing practices, but also by levering ‘terroir’ management practices which regulate the circulation of water and its replenishment from the autumn and winter rains. Precision irrigation can be used to control vine water status, but its generalisation is neither possible nor desirable. Water-efficient and ecological farming practices should be promoted. In fact, crop management also makes it possible to maintain a large portion of the vineyards without irrigation.
Methods exist for adapting wine making to limit the effects of climate change (reducing alcohol content, adjusting acidity are two examples), but systemic and applied research into new varieties is still needed.
Pedoclimatic variability across a terroir are a resource for adaptation, which requires new knowledge, mapping and modelling. The local management of fires, ecosystems and landscapes calls for a viticultural governance structure that works with other stakeholders in the area. Climate change also requires new engineering approaches in wine growing regions.
Climate risks are disrupting economic strategies. Private insurance schemes must be combined with public and shared support and investments, prevention, even better information and warning systems, wine reserve management options and wine markets.
Taking consumers into consideration is essential to understand their preferences in relation to the changes seen in wines and to adaptation innovations, but also to raise their awareness and involve them in the strategies to be implemented to deal with climate change.
The wine industry must contribute to the mitigation of climate change by reducing its emissions and capturing carbon, as there are many opportunities (soil and landscape management, logistics, building insulation, etc.) and consumers are sensitive to this commitment, which will contribute to a positive image of wine.
Co-constructing adaptation strategies at multiple levels
The LACCAVE project highlights the need to design and assess combinations of these different adaptation levers, using systemic and participatory approaches to build action strategies at different levels.
Methods have been developed that combine winegrower participation and modelling tools to simulate the impacts of climate change on a local scale and assess different adaptation strategies.
On the broader regional level, LACCAVE has supported approaches that encourage consultation between stakeholders to bring about common solutions.
At the national level, LACCAVE conducted a foresight study for 2050, providing four scenarios that were reviewed in seven wine-producing regions and gave rise to 2,700 proposals for action. Collected data provided food for thought for the professional representatives who, with coordination from the INAO and France AgriMer, drafted a "Strategy for the wine industry in the face of climate change", which was presented to the Minister of Agriculture and Food on 26 August 2021.
The climate challenge calls for the reinforcement of knowledge and data production and sharing by combining various fields, a systemic vision and participatory approaches that include regional stakeholders and consumers.
Results of the research conducted during the LACCAVE project will be available on the VINEAS collaborative platform (an INRAE/Climate KIC project), which brings together stakeholders and projects to share knowledge and solutions related to the impact of climate change on vines and wine (https://www.vineas.net/).
 Based on the theses of Etienne Neethling, Etienne Delay and Audrey Naulleau
LACCAVE: key figures
Over 100 researchers from 25 INRAE research units, as well as several CNRS units and universities (Rennes, Limoges, Dijon)
A wide range of disciplines (genetics, ecophysiology, agronomy, environmental sciences, oenology, geography, economics, sociology, etc.).
Over 100 peer-reviewed articles since 2013 and more than 200 presentations at conferences and seminars
Contributions to numerous journals and technical sites (Revue Française d'œnologie, ONERC, ADEME and more), publications and events related to climate change.
Presentations to decision-makers: the economic commission of the French National Assembly, the MACS-G20 meeting in Tokyo, the Unesco COP21 Congress, the OIV, the Academy of Agriculture, the Academy of Technologies, the FAO, the COPA-COGECA, the Ministry of Agriculture and others.
Over 530 media appearances (2016-2021)