Unprecedented rainfall in wine-growing regions of Northern Portugal

Abstract

Climate is arguably one of the most important factors determining the quality of wine from any given grapevine variety. High rainfall during spring can promote growth of the vines but increases the risk of fungal disease, while vineyard operations can be disrupted, as machinery may be prevented from getting in the vineyard owing to muddy soils. Conversely, high rainfall during harvest time (August to October) also bears the potential for severe operational disruption and heavy economic losses. To date, the probability of unprecedented rainfall amounts in spring and the harvest season has not been assessed over northern Portugal, specifically the three wine-growing regions of Vinho Verde, Trás-os-Montes and Porto and Douro DOC. In a situation of higher climatic variability, establishing the probable limits of rainfall variation during critical moments of the vine growth cycle will allow for better readiness of farmers as well as higher resilience of the whole value chain.