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Fostering Viniculture Sustainabiliy for Douro Valley: Multidisciplinary Efforts from Field to Wine

The Research Line “VitalityWINE” intends to approach the strategic importance of the Vine and Wine sector in economic and social development of the country, highlighting the key role of CITAB as a reference pole in this specific area in the North of Portugal. The present situation of vine and wine sector is highly competitive, mainly due to the emergence of new wine-producing countries, the high quality of the wines produced, the price wars and the rise in vineyard production costs. Under these technological, social and political challenges and advances, mostly negatively exacerbated by global changes, the measurement of the environmental effects and adaptation measures, the improvement of biodiversity in vineyard ecosystems, the enhancement of management procedures to reduce input costs and to increase the sustainability and wine quality, the valorization of vine and wine by-products and the increase of the consciousness of the consumers on the various aspects of wine on well-being are key strategies to reinforce the sector competitiveness and to ensure its consolidation and future growth. This implies new and innovative approaches, involving scientists from agro-meteorology, statistics, biosystems engineering, soil science, viticulture, plant genetics and physiology, molecular biology, pest and diseases, yeast microbiology and enology. In accordance the research plan is divided into five scientific projects each one subdivided into several activities closely interlinked.

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The Vitality WINE research line is to develop a multidisciplinary approach that can be a new contribution to overcome the vulnerabilities of Douro Valley viticulture in a changing climate, ensuring the economic and environmental sustainability of the all sector and maintaining the wine typicity attributes and the valorisation of its by-products.

The 5 projects proposed in this Research Line will use advanced methodologies, whose main focus will be in the vineyard functional biodiversity, grapevine performance, grape composition and the key role of microbial communities in pre- and post-harvest grape quality, and finally in by-products valorisation. All measures have the potential to produce relevant scientific and technical production with main interest for the stakeholders. The proposed adaptation practices that will be studied have the potential to be extended to other Mediterranean wine regions once their technical and economic feasibility has been refined and scientifically demonstrated. As such, VitalityWINE aims to lessen the adverse impacts of climate change by supporting timely adaptations in Douro viticulture and, hence, over a longer term, foster resource-efficient economic growth and the job preservation in this economically important sector. The systematic process-based assessment of the links between climate, soils, plant health and viticulture is unprecedented and methodically innovative at a spatial scale which accounts for the needs of climate impact research in the viticultural sector.

The VITALITY WINE research line is organized in five integrative and complementary projects:
» Project 1 - Maximizing soil functional agrobiodiversity for a more sustainable viticulture
» Project 2 - Grapevine management measures at short-term and their effects on wine quality
» Project 3 - Long-term strategies from vineyard ecosystem to wine production
» Project 4 - Data driven solutions for precision viticulture
» Project 5 - Outlining pitfalls concerning winery residues: A phytochemical perspective to enhance valorisation opportunities