The unique heritage of heroic viticulture
Heroic viticulture, a remarkable and demanding form of grape cultivation primarily found in Europe, embodies the century-old tradition and spirit of resilience against challenging natural obstacles. This specialised practice has earned its title due to the incredible challenges faced by those who embrace it. These determined farmers confront extreme weather conditions, navigate steep and rugged slopes, and often rely on manual labor due to the impracticality of using machinery in such harsh terrain. Sites where heroic viticulture is practiced have developed in many places over Europe, like Valtellina (Northern-Italy), Ribeira Sacra (Spain), Côte-Rôtie (France), and the Mosel region (Germany). The remarkable effort of the wine growers have garnered international recognition, many of these vineyards being celebrated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and designated as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) by the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Heroic viticulture practiced in the Soave wine region in Northern Italy.
Preserving viticulture in challenging climatic conditions
The significance of heroic viticulture goes beyond its exceptional wines; it’s about the preservation of culture and tradition and the critical challenge of climate change. Many of these vineyards are steeped in history, with some tracing their roots back centuries. Their survival hinges on the transfer of traditional wisdom from one generation to the next. The construction and maintenance of agricultural terraces, a common feature in these areas, are essential for grape cultivation, enabling grape growing while serving as vital tools for managing water during heavy rainfall, preventing soil erosion, and mitigating risks like landslides.
In recent years, the heroic winegrowers have faced a formidable adversary: climate change. Extreme weather events, such as intense rainfall and prolonged droughts, have become increasingly frequent, putting these vineyards at risk. Intense rainfall can trigger soil degradation and landslides, necessitating costly drainage systems. On the other hand, drought conditions have created water management challenges, especially on steep slopes. The risk of land abandonment rises, as the economic benefits of heroic viticulture often pale in comparison to the efforts required. To combat these challenges, heroic winegrowers are seeking innovative solutions, from optimizing water management to nurturing sustainable agricultural practices. Their resilience is not just a testament to their farming skills but also to their commitment to preserving cultural heritage and continuing to thrive in the face of a changing climate.
Map My Vineyard: Drone innovation for sustainable vineyard management
Remote sensing, notably through drones, is a crucial tool for addressing soil degradation in heroic viticulture. In regions like Mediterranean Europe, preserving the sustainability of hillslope vineyards is critical due to climate change, which brings more intense rainfall and a higher frequency of rainstorms, which can destroy grapevines and soils. At Cambisol, we recognized the benefits of drone cartography for sustainable management of heroic viticulture. Remote sensing, particularly low-cost drone surveys, enables high-precision terrain mapping and the understanding of soil degradation. It can simulate water flow and erosion across vineyards, facilitating scenario analyses for new interventions or changing climate conditions. Remote sensing helps detect degradation, understand its causes, and test new vineyard designs for soil and water conservation.
Therefore, we have developed Map My Vineyard: our low-cost but state-of-the-art service. Through Map My Vineyard, we provide high resolution maps of vineyards, helping vineyard owners to improve their management and to be more resilient to extreme weather events and changing climate. Besides contributing to sustainability goals, our maps can provide economic benefits by contributing to more efficient use of resources, cost reduction, and improved yield and quality.
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Map My Vineyard offers diverse types of maps of through low-cost yet state-of-the-art drone technology.