Happy New Year 2018 Fodder Folks! 2017 ended for me with a trip to South America, in order to participate in the 20th International GiESCO (Group of International Experts of vitivinicultural Systems for CoOperation) meeting held in Mendoza, Argentina, and to do some vineyard field touring with my UCCE colleagues in Chile. GiESCO (a funny acronym, I know) provides a wealth of information, and it is especially interesting to realize that winegrowers and extension researchers all over the world are facing many of the same problems- including drought imposed by higher
temperatures and lack of snow, in South America, the Andes Mountains are experiencing an average 15% decrease in flow. Sound familiar? As I write this the temperature is 68 degrees in January and there is no snow in the Sierra. While historically Argentine growers had canal water for furrow irrigation, today new vineyards must drill for groundwater and use drip irrigation. The need is for more efficient use of the water they have, while carefully monitoring what is available.
Richardo Villalba presents Andean climate stats at GiESCO.
In Chile, growers are looking to sustainable farming methods.
Anticipating that glyphosate will no longer be used in 5 years, the Vina San Pedro de Tarapacá Wine Group is experimenting with organic wine growing, using an "intercepa" mechanical weed cultivator. Since trunk diseases are a major problem there (yet another similarity with CA. grape growing), pruning wounds are routinely treated with protectants.
The "intercepa" weed cultivator.
Netting is used to protect clusters from the intensity of the sun. And all winery
Pruning wounds are treated with fungicide protectants to prevent the spread of canker disease.
waste goes to a "biodigester", a compost making power plant that supplies hot water, electricity, and compost that goes back onto the vines.
Clusters are routinely netted for sun protection.
Perhaps the most progressive thing that VSP wine group is doing to prepare for a sustainable future is communicating openly about their problems and solutions-because planning for a sustainable future doesn't happen in a bubble. Turns out it really is a small world, after all.