Research: Vineyard Establishment

Site selection, clone selection, trellising, terracing


Balan, V. and I. Neamtu (1997). “Amenajarea antierozionala in platforme late a terenurilor in panta pentru plantatiile viticole.; Antierosional arrangement of sloping lands for vineyards in large platforms.” Cercetari Agronomice in Moldova 30(3): 173-179.

The arrangement of land with a slope of 12-20% in large platforms with rectilinear rows on the contour, delimited by roads and a sewer network to prevent erosion, has the following advantages compared to a terraced vineyard: the high cost of establishing vineyards on slopes is reduced; the factors favourable for landslides are reduced; the micro-earth works on each interval allow the mechanization of maintenance works; and plant growth and the yield obtained are normal. Permanent maintenance of the drainage system and additional measures like alternative weed control on the intervals or on the uncovered crops of row micro-gradients are required. (Language: Romanian)


Costacurta, A., D. Tomasi, et al. (1988). “Measurement of the amount of direct solar energy received by the vineyard as a function of location and structure.” Rivista di Viticoltura e di Enologia 41(12): 491-510.

A model for measuring intercepted radiation is described. It is used to analyse the effects of environmental parameters (latitude, slope and aspect) and vineyard structure (training form, row direction, inter-row distance, etc.) on the quantity of radiation available to the vines at different times in the growth cycle. (Language: Italian)


Dumas, V., E. Lebon, et al. (1997). “Differentiation of local climate in the Alsatian vineyards.” Journal International des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin 31(1): 1-9.

Climate and soil characteristics are the main factors affecting the qualitative potential of a vineyard. At the level of the ‘terroir’, it is important to know the variability of the local climate (mesoclimate). Landscape parameters (altitude, slope, etc.) affecting the local climate of vineyards in Alsace, France, were studied at 6 sites, each representative of a terroir type, during 1991, 1992 and 1993. Climatic variables were measured hourly and daily throughout the growing season (April-September). Wind speed was the variable which was most affected by the landscape. The gradient of the landscape, its altitude and its orientation were the main factors differentiating the terroirs. The variability of global solar radiation depended on the slope, the orientation, and the height of and distance to topographic elements. This variability depended on solar angle and was smallest in June. Small differences in average seasonal temperature were observed between sites. More detailed studies considering different daily weather conditions (cloudy versus clear weather) and measures per hour and per day contributed to a better differentiation between sites. In cloudy weather conditions, temperatures depended on altitude only (thermic gradient -0.6 degrees C/100 m). In clear weather conditions, night temperatures depended on the altitude and the slope of the site; day temperatures were also influenced by the orientation and the gradient of the landscape, and the characteristics of the soil surface. (Language: French)


Egger, E., M. Leprini, et al. (2002). “Observation of late frost damage in grapes.” Informatore Agrario 58(5): 63-66.

The tendency to late frosts and the ensuing damage to 56 vine varieties or clones was studied from 1997 through 2001 in a vineyard at Arezzo, Italy (270 m altitude). Frosts in March had little effect on the plants but April frosts caused significant damage, particularly if March temperatures had been mild. The severity of the damage varied according to the stage of development of the buds or shoots and varietal differences were also apparent. A table classifies the vines according to sensitivity to late frosts: slightly sensitive (12), moderately sensitive (9), sensitive (22, including all but three of the Sangiovese clones) and highly sensitive (13, including the remaining Sangiovese clones). The only defence against late frosts appears to be the choice of tolerant vine varieties. (Language: Italian)


Fonteneau, P. and A. Carbonneau (2005). “Vineyards on very steep slopes: the Harp, a training system with an original plant water regime.” Progres Agricole et Viticole 122(17): 361-369.

Two criteria were chosen in order to study the physological functioning and the qualitative potentialities of the vineyard training system Harp in Valtellina, North Italy, an alpine vineyard characterized by its very steep slopes. These criteria are the potential exposed leaf area (Carbonneau’s formula) and the plant water regime (leaf water potentials). The methodology used to evaluate the two criteria was adapted to the particularities of this mountain vineyard: steep slopes, complex architecture of vegetation. The Harp system results in a high exposed leaf area. Due to its original water regime, which is different between the two divided canopies, the Harp system should permit a particular adaptation of the training system to the terroir in Valtellina. The qualitative interest of the Harp system for the valley has been now noted for most aspects. (Language: French)


Fregoni, M. and D. Triacca (1979). “Examples of soil lay-out for viticulture on steep slopes.” Vignevini 6(5): 27-31.

Three methods of maintaining soil on steep slopes are outlined. Choice of the most suitable depends on angle of slope, soil type and depth of parent rock. In the first method wide terraces are retained by walls and the vine rows run down the slope on what are still fairly steep inclines. In the second wide terraces are held by grassed banks and contain 3- 4 vine rows running horizontally along the contour. In the third the arrangement is also horizontal with retaining banks but the terraces are narrower, each with a single vine row. (Language: Italian)


Iacono, F., M. Stefanini, et al. (1993). “Adaptability of Chardonnay clones at different altitudes. II. Organoleptic characteristics of wines.” Wein Wissenschaft 48(3-6).

Thirteen French and Italian clones of the winemaking grape cv. Chardonnay were grown at altitudes of 250 and 700 m. Sensory properties of wines prepared from grapes harvested in 1990 and 1991 were assessed by a trained panel; results were evaluated by the factor analysis procedure (varimax rotation method). The clones differed considerably in wine sensory properties. Altitude of cultivation influenced most sensory properties of the wine; high altitude improved body, and the sour-fruity, sweet pungent and varietal fruity characteristics of the wines. Year of production also influenced sensory quality of the wines. The relation of sensory properties of the wines to sugar accumulation properties of the grapes during ripening is discussed. [See Stefanini and Iacono abstract below for part I.] (Language: English)


Jones, G. V., N. Snead, et al. (2004). “Geology and wine 8. Modeling viticultural landscapes: A GIS analysis of the terroir potential in the Umpqua Valley of Oregon.” Geoscience Canada 31(4): 167-178.

Terroir is a holistic concept that relates to both environmental and cultural factors that together influence the grape growing to wine production continuum. The physical factors that influence the process include matching a given grape variety to its ideal climate along with optimum site characteristics of elevation, slope, aspect, and soil. While some regions have had hundreds and even thousands of years to define, develop, and understand their best terroir, newer regions typically face a trial and error stage of finding the best variety and terroir match. This research facilitates the process by modeling the climate and landscape in a relatively young grape growing region in Oregon, the Umpqua Valley appellation. The result is an inventory of land suitability that provides both existing and new growers greater insight into the best terroirs of the region. (Language: English)


Laville, P., A. Marre, et al. (1996). “Landslide and erosion modelling with geographical information systems.” Seizieme conference du COLUMA Journees internationales sur la lutte contre les mauvaises herbes, Reims, France, 6 8 decembre 1995 Tome 3.

The development is described of a method which evaluates the risk of landslides and other erosion events in Champagne vineyards as a function of natural and soil conditions. A numerical database containing information on elevation and soil has been used in conjunction with data obtained from geographical information system sources to create atlases (1/25,000) for erosion and landslide hazards. Used in conjunction with statistical methods and a knowledge of field conditions, the maps have been shown to be a valid tool in the prediction of soil movements. (Language: French)


Madelin, M. and G. Beltrando (2005). “Spatial interpolation-based mapping of the spring frost hazard in the Champagne vineyards.” Meteorological Applications 12(1): 51-56.

The Champagne vineyards, famous worldwide, are located at the northern limit of viticulture. Consequently, they are very sensitive to spring frosts that can occur after bud burst. These spring frosts occur mainly in radiative atmospheric situations (low speed wind, clear sky) where spatial variations in minimum temperatures are very important. The latter depend on several factors at different scales: from the macroclimatic scale, where the geographical location (latitude/longitude) has a strong influence, to the topoclimatic scale, where environmental and topographical factors play an important role. After a brief recall of the definition of these different factors extracted from a Digital Elevation Model and a land-use database, we propose a spatial interpolation of minimum temperatures in the Champagne vineyards based on multiple regression. From this interpolation, we can map the frost hazard for the whole vineyard from data measured over five spring seasons (1998-2003) and for about 20 weather stations. In this paper, we present this mapping technique and compare it with the data for spring 2003 when particularly strong frosts occurred. (Language: English)


Murisier, F., M. Ferretti, et al. (2003). “New training systems for vineyards on steep slopes in narrow terraces. Experiments on Merlot in Ticino.” Bulletin de l’ OIV 76(871/872): 739-750.

Training systems were evaluated in a vineyard (cv. Merlot) on terraces in Gudo, Switzerland. The natural inclination of the ground was 65% and the distance between terraces of vine rows was 3 m. Six training systems were tested with the aim of optimizing the use of space. Double Guyot with simple vertical tying (control) was compared with Guyot or cordon training with double tying, ascending and descending the slope. The level of pruning for the system of double tying was increased from 20 to 60% compared with the control. Between 1995 and 2000, this pruning level resulted in an average yield increase of 30-50%, without a negative effect on grape or wine quality. The maintenance of quality was attributed to the relationship between exposed leaf area per kg of grapes that was similar for all the systems. Cordon training resulted in an increase of pruning and of weight of grapes, but reduced the fertility of buds and the percentages of unburst buds and weak wood. In comparison with the control, the tested training systems required an increase in hours of labour of 30-150 h/ha. This was compensated for by the increase in yield. (Language: French)


Ramos, M. C. and J. Porta (1997). “Analysis of design criteria for vineyard terraces in the Mediterranean area of North East Spain.” Soil Technology 10(2): 155-166.

The most widely used measure for soil conservation in this area is terracing (hillside ditches, locally termed rases). Local technical solutions were studied and different types of terraces are described and analysed in terms of their effectiveness for runoff control. Mean potential soil losses were evaluated according to the USLE and compared with field measurements in experimental plots. The distances between terraces were calculated using the criteria proposed by several authors. Owing to the wide diversity of results, an acceptable value for ‘soil loss tolerance’ (T-value) has been used in order to establish some criteria to make recommendations, taking the values of soil loss measures in the field as a reference. According to these preliminary results based on measurements taken over a period of two years, recommended distances between terraces in vineyards are a distance of is 28 m with a slope of 6%, and 20 m in fields with a slope of 8%. Bennett’s criteria for calculation of distances between terraces are preferred, being close to experimental results in the area. (Language: English)


Rapcha, M. P., M. F. Kisil, et al. (2004). “Effect of vineyard location on productivity.” Sadovodstvo i Vinogradarstvo 2004(3): 19-21.

Effect of altitude, elevation, slope and orientation of a vineyard on productivity and grape sugar content was studied in Moldova. Data on effect of location parameters on the variables studied are tabulated. Statistical models describing relationships between the parameters and variables are presented. Variable results were obtained for different grape cultivars and combination of parameters. The authors state that orientation of a vineyard is responsible for 61% of variation in productivity and sugar content. (Language: Russian)


Simon, J. L., F. Murisier, et al. (1983). “Terrace cultivation in Swiss vineyards: effect on environment and production.” XVIIIe Congres international de la vigne et du vin de l’ OIV.

Terrace cultivation, which is standard practice in the Tessin region, is spreading to other regions. It ensures protection against erosion and may allow the development of slopes which could not have been cultivated otherwise. The type of terrace recommended depends on the slope. Factors such as the yield, mechanization possibilities and the trellising system must be considered. Yields in relation to terrace width are discussed, together with cover crop problems and vole damage. (Language: French)


Simon, J. L. and W. Koblet (1978). “Choice of grapevine cultural systems in relation to climatic restraints (altitude and latitude).” Bulletin de l’ OIV 51(567): 329-334.

A review and discussion, with mention of the geographical situation and climate of Swiss vineyards, characteristics of viticultural production, and cultural systems and their development. (Language: French)


Stefanini, M., F. Iacono, et al. (1993). “Adaptability of Chardonnay clones at different altitudes. I. Evaluation of a mathematical model for the definition of the sugar accumulation rate.” Wein Wissenschaft 48(3-6).

Thirteen clones of Chardonnay winemaking grapes from France and Italy were grown at altitudes of 250 and 700 m. During the grape ripening period, grapes were sampled weekly and sugar concn. and yield were determined. A mathematical model (quadratic model with a plateau) of sugar accumulation in grapes was assessed. Cluster analysis was applied to define groups of clones with similar sugar accumulation rates. 3 groups were differentiated among grapes grown at 250 m altitude; 4 groups were differentiated at 700 m altitude. The mathematical model fitted the experimental data well. The relation of veraison earliness, ripening and sugar accumulation rate is discussed in relation to selection of the optimum clone for restrictive environments. [See Iacono abstract above for part II.] (Language: English)


Stefanini, M., F. Iacono, et al. (1995). “Adaptability of Pinot noir clones to different altitudes.” Acta Horticulturae; Apr 1995 (388); 71-76.

The results are presented of studies on the environmental adaptability of Pinot noir grape [Vitis vinifera] clones cultivated at different altitudes. The trial was carried out for 3 years on 7-year-old vineyards planted with French and Italian Pinot noir clones grafted on SO4 rootstock. All vineyards were trained with the Guyot system. The vineyards were located in two Trentino areas (north Italy) at two different altitudes (250 and 700 m a.s.l.). Environmental adaptability was evaluated using a model of sugar accumulation rate in berries during ripening, and through quantitative and qualitative data obtained at harvest. There were significant differences in must composition between altitudes and data confirm that Pinot noir has a low adaptability to different cultivation areas. Thus, specific Pinot noir clones must be used, particularly in restrictive environments, in order to obtain a high quality crop. (Language: English)


Stefanini, M., F. Iacono, et al. (1993). “Adaptability of some Sauvignon Blanc clones to altitude evaluated by wine sensory analysis.” Vignevini 20(12).

Adaptability of Sauvignon blanc clones to cultivation at different altitudes was determined during the 1990-1991 period for 5 clones (242, 376, 377, R3, and 297) of Sauvignon blanc vines, using sensory evaluation of the wines produced from these grape varieties. Clones were cultivated at 250 or 700 m and grapes were sampled weekly from fruit set to harvest to monitor sugars accumulation, titratable acidity, pH, malic and tartaric acids, and K. Wines were evaluated by a test panel and statistical analysis. Quadratic equations were used to relate sugars accumulation with effects of clone, yr and environment. R3 had highest sugar concn. at both altitudes; sugar concn. was higher in grapes at 250 m than at 700 m. Accumulation of sugar was slower in clones 242, 376, and 377 than in the other clones. Similarly R3 had highest titratable acidity and lowest pH of all clones, with those grown at 250 m having higher acidity and lower pH than at 700 m. Sensory evaluation indicated that wines from grapes grown at higher altitudes generally had more typical fruity, floral and acid-bitter aroma and flavour than wines from grapes grown at 250 m, but there was variation between clones. (Language: Italian)


Tarara, J. M., J. C. Ferguson, et al. (2005). “Asymmetrical canopy architecture due to prevailing wind direction and row orientation creates an imbalance in irradiance at the fruiting zone of grapevines.” Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 135(1/4): 144-155.

Much effort is invested in trellising and training grapevines to maximize radiation interception by the canopy and to manage the radiation environment of the fruit clusters. Slope permitting, conventional wisdom among winegrape growers prompts many to adhere to north-south row orientations to balance between the two sides of the canopy both photosynthetic efficiency and the exposure of fruiting zones to solar radiation. In windy sites, thigmomorphogenesis in annually renewed shoots can reshape a bilaterally balanced canopy. We measured irradiance at the fruiting zone and shoot geometry in two contiguous vineyards differing only in row orientation. The prevailing west-southwest winds were roughly parallel to the rows of one vineyard and at an oblique angle to the rows of the second vineyard. Mean wind velocity in the prevailing direction was 3.3 m s- 1 during the growing season. Shoots were grouped into four classes based on row orientation and shoot azimuth from the cordon. Windward shoots were significantly shorter (26-29%) than all other classes of shoots because of fewer nodes per shoot. Mean internode length per shoot (~5 cm) did not vary between shoot classes and was not related to row orientation. Regardless of row orientation or initial shoot azimuth, shoot tips tended to be displaced eastward (leeward). In rows oriented roughly parallel to the prevailing wind, shoots exhibited distinct down-row streamlining and vines had a bilaterally uniform canopy about the cordon. In rows at an oblique angle to the prevailing wind the vines did not form a uniform canopy about the cordon. Both row orientations resulted in similar differences between sides of the canopy in total irradiance at the fruiting zone (+5.4 MJ m-2 d-1 on the west side of rows oriented at an oblique angle to the wind; +6.0 MJ m-2 d-1 on the south side of rows oriented parallel to the wind); however, the timing of peak intensity on the side receiving higher irradiance differed by row orientation (11.9 LST at south-facing fruit; 13.7 LST at west-facing fruit). Windinduced canopy asymmetry could result in unequal berry ripening in areas of high irradiance where peak insolation of the berries coincides with the highest temperatures of the day. Results indicate that in consistently windy locations, growers should establish row orientation based both on sun-earth geometry for maximizing radiation interception by the canopy, and on the consequences of radiation distribution at the fruiting zone due to wind-induced canopy asymmetry. In established vineyards, growers could compensate for non-uniform canopy architecture to some extent with modifications to the trellis system and standard training practices. (Language: English)