Verger de pommiers protégé par des filets anti-grèle à l'Unité Expérimentale Recherches Intégrées de Gotheron (UERI). © INRA, SLAGMULDER Christian

Climate change: 10 research projects to evaluate adaptation strategies 

From vine to wineglass: helping every actor adapt to the effects of climate change

Higher temperatures and increasingly scarce water resources will modify the way vines function and the composition of their grapes, with subsequent effects on every stage of the winemaking process and in the creation of a balanced final product. So how do you prepare a whole industry, from producer to consumer, for the consequences of global warming? The LACCAVE project has responded with a multidisciplinary approach to adaptation issues.

Updated on 01/31/2018
Published on 01/30/2018

As with all agricultural production, viticulture is preparing for a warmer, drier climate, as well as the consequences this will have on vine life. However, this will not be the only impact. Winemaking processes and, indeed, wines themselves will also change, since under a different climate the composition of grapes will change. New aromatic balances will therefore have to be found by oenologists for the wines of 2050. 


“With climate change, French red wines will be more concentrated, higher in alcohol and lower in acidity.”

In order to help all these actors prepare for the climate of the future, the LACCAVE project (‘Long-term adaptation to climate change for viticulture and oenology'), brought together and shared knowledge, and produced four scenarios for France’s wine production regions. 

A community brought together around adaptation

“The impacts had already been studied separately, but the ACCAF metaprogramme created an opportunity to collaborate on the environmental, social and economic aspects of the vine and wine sector,” explains project co-leader Nathalie Ollat, from the Grapevine Ecophysiology and Functional Genomics joint research unit in Bordeaux. “LACCAVE is an initiative from researchers to answer questions from the sector.” More than a dozen disciplines were brought together, including agronomists, geneticists, phytopathologists, economists and oenologists. In total, more than 100 researchers, 21 laboratories and seven departments participated. They had a clear objective: to appropriate knowledge and share the idea of adaptation between these disciplines. “In four years, we have offered and supervised seven PhDs, organised four seminars and conducted half a dozen scientific popularisation events at the Salon de l'Agriculture, COP 21, with the media etc.,” adds fellow co-leader Jean-Marc Touzard, from the Innovation joint research unit in Montpellier.

Rebuilding territorial projects

At the plant scale, the teams highlighted that a reduction in a vine’s nocturnal transpiration could make it possible to limit water consumption, which will help in choosing varieties with low water loss. At the territorial scale, the study of the local variability in temperatures has revealed that a good way to adapt is to rethink the area, relocating vines in the most appropriate spaces, beginning in the existing wine-growing areas. “We have to rebuild territorial projects,” says Nathalie. And concerning consumers, how will they react to the wines of the future? “Experiments have shown that the wines of 2050 could appeal when they are first tasted, but a certain apathy may set in during more recurrent consumption. This is an element to be taken into account by producers and wine merchants as it will affect customer loyalty,” says Jean-Marc.

how do you prepare a whole industry, from producer to consumer, for the consequences of global warming?. © INRA, Terre Ecos
how do you prepare a whole industry, from producer to consumer, for the consequences of global warming? © INRA, Terre Ecos

Innovation for the future 

To complement its predictive tools, LACCAVE teams conducted a foresight study on the future of French vineyards, in partnership with INAO (France’s National Institute of Origin and Quality) and FranceAgriMer (the country’s national establishment for agricultural and marine products). Four scenarios were tested - conservative, innovative, nomadic and liberal - and then debated with winegrowers through a series of ‘foresight forums’ in six wine regions. Jean-Marc provides the main conclusions: “These exchanges have highlighted the importance of the issues of land and financial investments. Faced with these constraints, winegrowers opt for the scenario that promotes innovation as a guarantee for the sustainability of their businesses. The profession has shown some concern about changes in their terroir and the loss of family traditions. But they are aware of the collective strength of the wine industry for building responses to climate change.”

Scientific contacts

Nathalie OLLAT. © INRA, Yaël Kouzmine / Inra
Nathalie OLLAT © INRA, Yaël Kouzmine / Inra
Nathalie Ollat, Grapevine Ecophysiology and Functional Genomics joint research unit: 
Jean-Marc TOUZARD. © INRA, J.M. Touzard, Inra
Jean-Marc TOUZARD © INRA, J.M. Touzard, Inra
Jean-Marc Touzard, Innovation joint research unit:

For more information

>> Barbeau G, Neethling E, Ollat N, Quenol H, Touzard J-M (2015) Adaptation au changement climatique en agronomie viticole. Agronomie - Environnement et Sociétés 5
>> Ollat N, Touzard J-M, Van Leeuwen C (2016) Climate Change Impacts and Adaptations: New Challenges for the Wine Industry. Journal of Wine Economics 11:139-149