IMPETUS promotes wine community response to climate change: Lien de la Vigne

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Grapes being cut from the vine by hand. (Image: Andrea Cairone, Unsplash)

The production of wine is an important economic and cultural resource in many countries. For years, climate change effects such as heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall, unexpected frosts, or milder and shorter winters have been affecting European wine production. Damaged vines, increased disease and thriving pests impact production and costs. With this constantly evolving ecosystem, there is an urgency to find effective solutions. A robust wine community response is needed to mitigate and adapt to the impacts, while taking biodiversity and wine quality into account. The EU-funded IMPETUS project helped to make the case and presented its human-digital approach for key decision making, during a conference organised by Lien de la Vigne Association, Vinelink, on 1 April 2022.

The Lien de la Vigne conferences make connections between the wine production sector and the world of scientific research. They focus on stimulating collaboration and the exchange of technical solutions within the wine profession. In the 2022 event, around 40 wine sector representatives explored the theme of climate change adaptation for the first time. Discussions covered the adaptation of vineyard plants and ongoing developments by wine producers. More resilient grape species, for example those that do well at high altitudes, are being transferred to other climatic regions as a way to adapt to extreme events. New grape varieties are needed that can tolerate the proliferation of vineyard pests and diseases. And ecologically-friendly vineyard design, using renewable elements such as green roofs, electric vehicles, and water recycling, will be key for sustainable wine production.

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Aitor Corchero (Eurecat) presenting IMPETUS at the April 2022 Lien de la Vigne conference. (Courtesy of Eurecat)

The IMPETUS for action

Aitor Corchero, a senior researcher with Eurecat Research and the IMPETUS technical coordinator, presented the project activities. The wine-growing region of Valle dei Laghi in Trentino, northern Italy, represents one of seven bio-climatic regions of Europe where the project is working. By combining community stakeholder activities and innovative digital tools in each region, the project will leave a legacy of interconnected ‘resilience knowledge boosters’ that support the ongoing creation of climate adaptation solutions and use locally relevant climate models and visualisations to aid regional decision making. In the longer term, IMPETUS will share the knowledge and solutions from its partners and local stakeholders with other regions. This will make a contribution to European winemakers and farmers, and provide land management models to local and regional authorities.    

IMPETUS activities in Trentino focus on the Alpine valley Valle dei Laghi, the project’s ‘Mountains’ bio-climatic demonstration site. The regional partners are coordinated by Eurac Research, which will design, test and implement solutions for optimally managing the region’s most precious resource, water. Two other partners are essential for healthy and responsible water management in viticulture: the Sarca-Mincio-Garda mountain catchment basin organisation BIM Sarca, and Waterjade by MobyGIS, a company that deals with modelling and optimisation of the water cycle. The Mountain Research Initiative, hosted at the University of Bern, is providing use of its Global Network for Observations and Information on Mountain Environments (GEO Mountains). And the viticultural cooperative Cantina Toblino is testing new high altitude vineyard cultivation in a land parcel granted to the project by the Municipality of Madruzzo.

This multi-disciplinary team will assess climate-related risks, create a regional ‘digital twin’ for seasonal water models, integrate governance and financial decision support tools, and promote the uptake of innovative solutions by engaging with regional, national and international stakeholders, using cultural heritage and societal responsibility to increase acceptance.

Wine sector IMPETUS partner

Cantina Toblino’s general manager, Carlo De Biasi also discussed the theme of sustainability and climate change during the ‘Modes of adaptation to climate change’ conference organised by Lien de la Vigne, as vice president of the association. His talk focused on dealing with the effects of climate change on montane viticultural crops that are dedicated to the production of Trento DOC sparkling wines.

“Those who work in the vineyard every day have to make decisive choices to better face the consequences of climate change. Today we can carry out studies with cutting-edge tools that allow us to develop, for example, viticulture in areas at above-average altitudes, in order to preserve the elegance and fragrance of the wines. This will allow us in the near future to improve the quality of the grapes through an innovative, careful, rigorous and sustainable viticulture.”

Carlo De Biasi, general manager of Cantina Toblino, vice president of Lien de la Vigne

Participation in IMPETUS was a factor contributing to a wine innovation award for Cantina Toblino on 10 March. In a video interview (in Italian) with the Le Fonti Award host, Carlo de Biasi discussed the project and the need to adapt to climate change.

Carlo de Biasi, general manager of Cantina Toblino accepting the 2022 Le Fonti Award for wine innovation

Cantina Toblino representative Giovanni Brumat also presented the Valle dei Laghi regional IMPETUS activities and the impacts of climate change on viticulture on 9 March 2022, in a session organised by IMPETUS and 3 sister climate resilience projects – REGILIENCE, ARSINOE and TransformAr – as part of the 3rd EU Macro-Regional Strategies Week.

Further information

More about the IMPETUS ‘Mountains’ demonstration site, partners and activities.

Follow Lien de la Vigne on Facebook.

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High temperatures

Record-breaking summertime temperatures have been recorded in the Netherlands in recent years. With global temperatures rising, such extreme weather events will occur more often, and for longer periods. Prolonged high temperatures, with warm nights as well as hot days, can cause heat stress* and related health issues, particularly among city populations. 

*Heat stress occurs when the human body cannot get rid of excess heat and can impact wellbeing through conditions such as heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps and rashes.

"We want to enable municipality decision makers who are working on spatial developments to identify heat stress 'hot spots' and cool areas, analyse the future effects of climate change, and model the effect of different heat stress-reducing measures. The tool must provide them with an easy starting point to integrate heat stress risks in their projects."

Issue

Despite the cooling effect of the sea in the region of Zeeland, the growing risk of heat stress has become a concern.

Elderly and other vulnerable people are more impacted by the effects of prolonged heat, which can cause headaches, dizziness, insomnia and other health issues – even death. Excess temperatures also affect general comfort and liveability of cities. Water quality can be reduced, both for drinking and swimming, and infrastructure can be affected. Buildings and concrete surfaces trap heat, potentially leading to damage, and release it during the night, keeping temperatures warm.

During heat waves, it is important that everyone has access to a cool and comfortable place. Appropriate spatial planning can help to decrease and deal with heat stress. Environmental factors like water bodies, trees, and shade have a major impact on stress caused by high temperatures. Therefore, planting trees, removing concrete surfaces, creating green roofs and cool spaces can improve our comfort and health. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is developing a digital tool to support regional decision making for city planning to address these needs.

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Flood risk

By 2050, sea-level within this region is predicted to rise by 15-40 cm, with more frequent extreme weather and more (severe) storms triggered by climate change. These changes will exacerbate the natural risk of flooding in the IMPETUS ‘Atlantic’ region, because it is surrounded by rivers and the sea, and is below sea level.

*Risk takes into account two aspects; the chance that an event will occur and the negative impact of such an event once it occurs. When there is a low chance that an event will occur, but its impacts are huge, the risk is still significant.

“In the Netherlands, an extensive system of dikes protects us against sea and river flooding. We have always put our faith in this defence and focused almost solely on flood prevention. However, pressure on our system will increase with climate change and rising sea levels. To adapt and maintain a safe living environment, we should develop other safety measures, like more robust spatial planning and contingency plans."

Issue

Rotterdam city, is located in Rijnmond – ‘mouth of the Rhine’. The Rhine river flows through this densely populated area and characterises the region. Protections such as sea dikes and storm surge barriers have been constructed to protect the region, but flooding still occurs.

People living in the city are accustomed to seeing smaller floods. The changing climate affects the interplay between rainfall, river levels and sea storms, increasing the flooding risk. Water levels could rise by a few metres, even in populated areas, with potentially massive impacts. 

Mitigation measures such as storm surge barriers reduce the chance that high water reaches the city, but to minimise the impact of floods when they do occur, adaptation strategies are also needed. A city that can adapt to be safe from floods must be carefully designed. How best to design such an adaptive city?

Critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and evacuation routes, must be accessible at all times. Planning how to best protect them, homes and lives is complex. Flood water behaves in a complex way and flood risks show strong spatial variations. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is developing a digital tool to support regional decision making for adaptive city planning. 

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Energy and waste water

To become climate-neutral by 2050, climate mitigation* efforts are crucial in our strategy for how to deal with climate change. Reducing our energy consumption is a significant mitigation step. In the Netherlands, 15% of energy is consumed in the Rijnmond area around the port of Rotterdam, in large part by a major petrochemical industry cluster.

*Climate mitigation encompasses measures such as technologies, processes, or practices that reduce carbon emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases.

Issue

The Rotterdam port petrochemical industry cluster is Europe’s largest. It consumes 70% of the Rijnmond region’s energy. A large part of this energy is wasted (64%, 203 petajoules). More than half of that energy is lost with wastewater. In addition, most energy processes within these industries rely on fossil fuels, which has a significant impact on the climate.

Energy use must be minimised and fossil fuels should be replaced by renewable sources if climate change is to be mitigated. Electrification of processes opens up the possibility to use more renewable energy and can greatly impact decarbonisation. Recovering wasted heat would significantly reduce energy consumption and is a first step towards a more circular industry. 

Supporting industries in a transition towards climate-neutrality depends on identifying how best to reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing production or performance. The IMPETUS Atlantic team is creating a digital tool that supports decision making about pathways towards an effective energy transition for EU industry.