The soil was a rather disregarded factor in viticulture until a few decades ago. Since then, however, the importance of nitrogen, potassium, calcium and the other ingredients of the soil for the proper growth of vine stocks has been the subject of considerable study. The result has been extensive innovation in viticulture -depending on the type of farming (conventional, integrated, organic, biodynamic)- and the soil is now a “canvas” able to highlight the colorful palette of the new wines of Greece.
Equally important to where something is planted is what is planted. Agencies, producers, laboratories and university institutions carry out important research work in the field of determination and selection of the most appropriate clones for many local varieties. Some of this research has led to new plantings, spearheading innovation in viticulture and further strengthening the uniqueness of Greek wines.
New types of formations in many vineyards seem to point in the same direction. Taking also into account differences in climatic conditions, linear planting is tested and replaces other types of formation wherever it is proven more appropriate. This, of course, does not mean that tried and tested traditional systems (e.g. goblet- or basket-shaped vines) are abolished. If they prove more efficient, they are maintained along with innovation in viticulture. Furthermore, the density of planting increases in many Greek vineyards, leading to low yields per vine stock, which is the necessary condition for the production of high-quality wines.
In a country with a Mediterranean climate, such as Greece, the needs of vines for water are higher than in northern, more humid climates. Irrigation systems are thus a common feature in many good quality vineyards, especially in regions with low rainfall and humidity. Indeed, the installation of the first underground irrigation systems in vineyards in Europe places Greece among the pioneers in innovation in viticulture on the continent.
Special care is also required so that the sun, the great ally of the Greek land, is not turned into an enemy. This difficult task is undertaken by management of the vineyard’s foliar wall, a factor to which innovation in viticulture is paying increasing attention. The height, shape and ratio of foliage to fruit are relevant to the protection of the grapes and the proper photosynthesis, a necessary requirement for producing excellent grapes.
Innovation in viticulture also includes the necessary, absolute control provided by the use of meteorological stations installed in many Greek vineyards which provide wineries with valuable data on the weather outlook. An equally valuable ally is the ultramodern foliar-diagnostic laboratories which practically study the leaves under… a microscope, allowing the producer to diagnose and deal with any problem found in the vines.
Another part related to innovation in viticulture is the experimental planting which is done in Greek vineyards. Agencies and private entrepreneurs, either separately or jointly, systematically experiment on new varieties: foreign ones, that seem to be suitable for the Greek climate, as well as local ones, the potential of which is yet unknown and can hide many more veritable treasures than the ones already discovered.