Vincenza Folgheretti, Member of the Regional Committee of Assoenologists in Tuscany, a consultant enologist for various Italian wine-growing companies, can you give us your impressions on the tragic situation that Italian vineyards live at this time?
Unfortunately, for some years now, we are witnessing a variation in our increasingly tropical climate, with heavy effects not only on vine but also on all Italian agriculture. It is no longer a rare occurrence the sudden change of weather conditions, ranging from serene to bad weather, from drought to water bombs often also alluvial, with extreme spring ice and hailstones in August / September. That's exactly what happened just over ten days ago. The night of 20th and 21st April will hardly be forgotten in Italy, especially in the northern center. We went from spring temperatures to winter frost, for several hours of the night at a time when vineyards had already started their vegetative phase, causing huge damage to Italian viticulture.
Now what are the methods you use to save the vineyards from the cold?
Unfortunately in some areas the vintage has been seriously affected, at this time we are trying to limit as much damage as possible.
In areas where the effect was partial, treatments were made to reduce stress from the plant, trying to restore lymphatic passage to the organs that are still alive.
As for the areas completely burned, we know that the vine is endowed with basal bud that usually awaken in an emergency, so it will resume its vegetative phase, with effects that unfortunately will affect the management of pruning next year.
You can tell us what you think is the biggest mistake you can make in these moments and what are the most useful interventions?
The biggest mistake is not to be prepared.
Surely in such a condition it was very useful to turn on fires around the vineyards by feeding them to create smoke clouds that prevented the loss of heat as much as possible.
In some vineyards, antifreeze or resistance inductors have been used. However, the fact remains that operations are to be planned, organized and managed, and therefore have a more prevention approach.
What are your perceptions of the future and the final results of the consequences in wines?
For now it is difficult to make predictions, we are all waiting to see the reaction that the plants will have. The vegetative recovery does not guarantee neither the quantity nor the quality of the grape. In the affected vineyards, vintage will not be easy.
Something you would like to share with all the wine producers around the world at this time?
We are all aware of the climate change that the whole world is witnessing, and we know that it is impossible for us to control it, so we just have to learn from our experiences and try to avoid being unprepared.
The study, the observation of the phenomena and the constant and up-to-date preparation can help us to reduce the damage. Working in prevention also can help, avoiding where it is possible to plant bottom valleys, setting up taller vine breeding, using non-early varieties, delaying pruning in order to shift sproutting times.