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Mission: protect vines from the Polish chill

17.09.2012 Nature
White wine bottle, glass, young vine and bunch of grapes against green spring background

Igor Yaruta - Fotolia Igor Yaruta - Fotolia /

With a bit of an effort, we can produce good quality wine in Poland, accortding to Prof. Stanisław Weidner of the University of Warmia and Mazury. As part of a research project he investigates how vines can cope with the Polish chill and drought.

"In the basin of the Euphrates and Tigris vines were grown already about 5 thousand years BC. They came to Poland together with Christianity and were grown by priests and monks. Development of Polish vineyards and popularity of domestic wine lasted until the late fifteenth century" - explained Prof. Stanisław Weidner from the Department of Biochemistry at the Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology, University of Warmia and Mazury.

Regression occurred in the sixteenth century. This was due to climate cooling in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, increased imports of foreign wines and the destruction of the country during long wars.


"Today, we can produce very good wines in Poland, if we make an effort. However, it is not quite easy" - said Prof. Weidner.


According to the scholar, there are many valuable vine varieties, which, even in our difficult climate, can give tasty fruit that can be used to make wine with a pleasant taste.


However, the cold climate and low sun exposure causes the need for a comprehensive study of vines cultivated in Poland. Prof. Weidner investigated how the vines cope with adverse environmental conditions, which scientists call the "stresses".


Studies show that phenolic compounds are an important factor regulating plant defence mechanisms. "Plants accumulate them by thousands, and we try to explain why they do it. One hypothesis, largely proved, implies that they do so to create immunity to various diseases, and that these compounds play a protective role in various stresses" - explained Prof. Weidner.


Olsztyn scientists are also trying to identify proteins that actively participate in the immune processes of cells and tissues of vines to drought and cold stress.


"American Studies show that if plants could better cope with stresses, crops could increase by up to 70 percent. With the work stress mitigation, the effectiveness of existing vine increases significantly, and in addition the cultivation can be moved to countries that have not been associated with wine" - the scientist emphasised.


For this reason, although the vine grows best in a Mediterranean climate, today it is also grown in Denmark, Sweden, the UK and Latvia. In Poland, more and more vineyards are started not only in the area of Zielona Góra, but also in Lesser Poland, the Carpathian and near Sandomierz.


The emergence of new vineyards in the country is the result of global warming and the rise of the average air temperature during the growing season in recent years. According to Prof. Weidner, in order to get good results of growing in Poland, we should use resistant varieties of vine, even create new ones. We should also provide them with the best possible conditions for growth: sunny sites, well-sheltered from strong and cold winds.


"Vine is usually resistant to drought. It should be noted, however, that in a period of rapid growth of grape the soil should be moist to ensure the correct fruit development and fervent them from falling" - Prof. Weidner described.


According to estimates there are currently around 500 hectares of vineyards in Poland. Prof. Weidner believes that if we want to catch up with other European countries in terms of wine consumption, we should have 118,000 hectares of vineyards, about as much as there are currently in Germany.


Prof. Weidner caries out studies of vine defence mechanisms against adverse factors under the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST).


PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland, Ewelina Krajczyńska


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