22 February 2018


Climate Change Conference organised by L’Albeisa, Grinzane Cavour, 14th Dec. 2017

  • 22 February 2018 /

Speakers: Luca Mercalli, Presidente of S.M.I (Societa Meteorologica Italiana); Federica Gaiotti of C.R.E.A (Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e l’Analisi dell’Economia Agraria); Ruggero Mazzilli of S.P.E.V.I.S (Stazione Sperimentale per la Viticoltura); Elisa Angelini, C.R.E.A

Luca Mercalli, Torino

  • Drivers of climate change are the levels of nitrogen dioxide, phosphorus, nitrous oxide (through fertilizers) & carbon dioxide
  • Since records of climate began in the province of Torino, in 1753, the level of carbon dioxide in the air is now at 410 parts-per-million (ppm), compared with an average of 280 ppm during the 1800s. Indeed it has never been above 300 ppm until the 1990s
  • There was a post World War 2 cool period, caused by a layer of carbon dust covering the earth produced by the burning of coal
  • 2003 was the hottest year since records began, followed by 2017, 2012, 2009, & (5th) 2016
  • In fact, 2014 was also one of the hottest summers on record since 1753, & it was the year that registered one of the lowest number of days of frost (6!) ever.
  • As 40 degrees Celsius becomes the new summer norm, the risk is of summer desertification & that Torino becomes as hot as Karachi within the next 50-100 years, i.e. for the next generation…

Federica Gaiotti, Conegliano (Veneto)

  • Average temperature Celsius has risen from 12.5 degrees for the period 1930 – 1989 to 13.8 degrees for 1990-2014
  • The (Glera) grape maturation period has decreased from 179 days between 1960-1990 to 165 days between 1991 – 2016. Notably there has been a shortening of the invaiatura/veraison period. And that the sugar maturation in (Glera) grapes are arriving before phenolics.
  • Strategies for combating this development: changing orientation of the rows from N-S to W-E; leaving more leaves, adopting pergola/tendone instead of VSP/Parete; using products to protect the grapes, such as yeast extract to thicken the skin (& caolino to act as a sun cream); change of grape variety, e.g. Nebbiolo instead of Pinot Nero

Ruggero Mazzilli, Toscana

  • Key (to combating climate change): soil management. Soil is the anima/soul of territorialita/terroir; it must be protected.
  • Within soil management, the key is to increase the hydric capacity of the soil: enhanced hydric capacity through inerbimento (grassing over), pacciamatura (cover crops/material) to protect the soil from the sun, loss of moisture etc.. Not to work the soil during the summer in order to conserve water resource in the soil
  • Problem to date: monoculture & the planting of vineyards in the wrong places (Rittochino = ‘Franapioggio’ in Tuscany; Terrazzamento = Mezzapioggio’)
  • Irrigation: is generally used in areas where there is no need, or where there should be no vine planted; but where it could be useful, e.g. Toscana, there is none available!
  • Fertile soil: the vines produces leaves. Poor soil: the vine is forced to develop its root structure & thereby become more resilient.  Different density of planting produces diverse root structures.
  • Combating increased insect pressure: need to adopt collective view/approach across many vineyards & between owners, as insects view a valley/escarpment as a whole & not as single plots!
  • To maximise the expression of territorialita/terroir, need to do less in the vineyard, not more! Need to encourage the development of biodiversity in the soil, not the Consorzio Agraria! Lighter mezzi agricola/vehicles; no more cutting of grass (trinciature); entering & exiting the vineyards at different points to avoid compaction of the soil; changing the approach to pruning, to avoid deep wounds
  • Cimare/cutting of the tops of the vine unnecessary in the new climate as creates only more sugar/alcohol, & only compacts the soil further.
  • Shorter maturation season risks standardisation of fruit/wine, so there’s a need to extend this period to retain the expression of territorialita/terroir.

Elisa Angelini, Conegliano

  • Hotter temperatures (& milder winters) creates more stress for the vine, so rendering it more susceptible to disease pressure. Hence why there has been a increase in: mal dell’esca, flavescenza dorata & tignole/tignolette