Up to few years ago, the consumers taste from both domestic and foreign markets has scored higher preferences for wines characterized by high structure/body and alcohol content and by strong terroir identity. Today, two new factors, termed as “global warming” and “drink-light phenomenon” lead to reconsider the current productive models. More specifically, the following emerging issues have to be taken into account: 1) the onset of all phenological stages occurs earlier; 2) grape ripening is generally accelerated as per increment of sugar accumulation into the berries which, in turn, leads to higher alcohol content in the wine; 3) faster depletion of organic acids in the juice and more rapid increase of pH values which, as a consequence, triggers high microbiological instability of the must during pre-fermentation; 4) uncoupling of technological (more accelerated) and phenolic (more delayed) ripening with negative effects on grape and wine aroma and flavor, especially in red grape varieties; 5) increase of berries withering up to sun burn damage. In the medium-to-long term these changes would lead to a geographical redistribution of viticulture, whereas in the brief time span they would call for hands-on solutions by the reinterpretation of traditional and innovative management techniques. In this review, several tools ranging from varietal and clonal choice, possible diversification of wines produced, suitable training system and rootstocks, as well as traditional and innovative management techniques able to regulate a too much accelerated and/or unbalanced grape ripening process, will be presented and discussed.
Keywords: grape composition, source-sink management, sugar accumulation rate, environmental stresses, anti-transpirant, plant growth regulators