Research Topic

Biogeosciences and Wine: the Management and Environmental Processes that Regulate the Terroir Effect in Space and Time

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About this Research Topic

Viticulture is one of the most important agricultural sectors with a global area under vineyards of about 7,500,000 hectares, a global annual wine production of about 250 million of hl, and an annual trade of more than 30 billion euros. Relationships between the physical environment (climate, morphology, ...

Viticulture is one of the most important agricultural sectors with a global area under vineyards of about 7,500,000 hectares, a global annual wine production of about 250 million of hl, and an annual trade of more than 30 billion euros. Relationships between the physical environment (climate, morphology, soil) and human actions through agricultural practices (cultivar selection, plant management, soil management, etc.) address the grape, and wine, quality and quantity. This process is not confined to agricultural fields, but it also includes wine-making techniques and wine marketing based on territories, often protected through geographical denominations of origin in many countries.

The French term of “Terroir” links the quality and typicity of wine to the territory. In particular, it identifies specific environmental characteristics that affect the plant response and eventually, the wine peculiarities. The environmental factors that drive the “terroir effect” vary in space and time, as well as soil and crop management.

A good understanding of the spatial variability of some environmental factors (e.g., soil) is very important to manage and preserve terroirs and face the current and future issue of climate change. In this context it is important to stress that, in the last decade, the study of terroir has shifted from a largely descriptive regional science to a more applied, technical research field including: sensors for mapping and monitoring environmental variables, remote sensing and drones use for crop monitoring, forecast models, the use of microelements and isotopes for wine traceability, and metagenome approach to study the biogeochemical cycles of nutrients. Moreover, public awareness of ecosystem functioning has led to more quantitative approaches in evidencing the relations between management and the ecosystem services of vineyard agroecosystems.

Agroecology approaches in vineyards, like the use of cover crops, straw mulching, and organic amendments, are developing to improve biodiversity, organic matter, soil water and nutrient retention and preservation from soil erosion. In this general context, this Research Topic will address several aspects of viticultural terroirs, in particular:

1) The quantification and spatial modelling of terroir components that influence plant growth, fruit composition and quality, mostly examining climate-soil-water relationships;
2) Terroir concept resilience to climate change;
3) Wine traceability and zoning based on microelements and isotopes; and
4) The interaction between vineyard management practices and effects on soil and water quality, as well as biodiversity and related ecosystem services.

Manuscripts submitted to this Research Topic can have one of a number of formats: original research articles, reviews, mini-reviews on specific topics, reviews of recent books, or short opinion pieces.


Keywords: viticulture, soil management, hydrology, soil ecosystem services, traceability


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