At the end of 2021 the European Union gave the green light to the introduction in the production regulations of the so-called ‘resistant grapevines’ (or PIWI), which are the result of the crossing between the vitis vinifera and the Asian and American varieties.
This piece of news has created divisions among both academics and producers. For some this could be a radical change for European viticulture, both in a positive and negative sense. In the light of the palpable consequences of climate change, the resistant grapevines are going to eliminate, or at least reduce, parasitic diseases (fungi, bacteria and viruses). However, the detractors of this change think that these kinds of crossings will not guarantee the same intrinsic characteristics of the European grapes.
As previously mentioned, this situation is creating contrasts both in the single PDO and in the Member States: an example is given by the fact that France has not authorised the planting of some resistant grapevines grown in Italy, not even to produce table wine. However, there’s some recent news that Voltis is the first resistant grapevine to become part of the officially recognised grapes of Champagne AOC.
In this general confusion, the only certain thing is the wish for clarity coming from all players of the industry, including consumers.
Saturnalia, for more than 5 years now and with the support of the European Space Agency (ESA), has been analysing satellite-derived data applied to viticulture. After such a long time in the sector, we became aware that the PDOs often do not have enough data (such as soil moisture, precipitation, temperature, extreme weather events) about their own region, especially over long periods of time. When elaborated with the right tools and knowledge, big data become extremely precious when it comes to providing support to strategic decisions, no matter if they concern the whole agronomic sector, wine-producing areas or the single producer.
Being the topic of resistant grapevines so complex and broad, and not having the technical expertise to properly evaluate pros and cons, we prefer reporting the rather disrupting news without taking a stance. At the same time though, we are always available to provide an example of how big data can be leveraged in the industry.
If any academic, consortium, wine-grower or other professional in the field is willing to join forces and expertise with us, we will be very happy to show the results – although certainly not conclusive ones – that the right partnership can bring.
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