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Australia importing Cypriot vines to fight climate change

July 16, 2019 at 11:49am

Australia will plant Xynisteri and Maratheftiko vines to test them as a measure against climate change-induced droughts, WineTitles Media reported.

Cypriot grapes are considered to be drought-tolerant and will be used in trials that replicate those being undertaken in commercial Cypriot vineyards to determine their suitability for Australian conditions.

Xynisteri and Maratheftiko were recently released from Australian quarantine and are being propagated at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.

“We are seeing increasing temperatures and increasing frequency of heat waves in southern Australia and this is affecting vine harvest and putting more and more pressure on water resources,” University of Adelaide PhD student Alexander Copper told WineTitles.

Copper has established trials under irrigated and drought conditions in Cyprus and the material from quarantine will be used to repeat these experiments in Australia to further determine their drought tolerance.

“These varieties are very drought tolerant in Cyprus, often grown without any irrigation, and it is hoped they will be able to grow in Australian conditions with minimal to no irrigation,” he told WineTitles.

Australia’s popular grape varities such as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir among others are all varieties that traditionally have been grown in parts of France with high rainfall and without irrigation. However in Australia, they need irrigation.

“We do have some more drought tolerant varieties from Spain, Italy and Portugal, but I believe the Cypriot varieties will be more drought tolerant than these. They have been cultivated for thousands of years in Cyprus, tolerating very hot, dry summers, surviving on winter rainfall alone, very similar to our climate here in South Australia,” Copper said.

Consumer response in Australia to the Cypriot vines has been positive, says Cassandra Collins who supervises Copper’s project.

“Considering the similar climates of Australia and Cyprus, these Cypriot grape varieties have potential as environmentally sustainable wines which will require less resources and help in the future adaptation of the wine industry to a changing climate,” she said.

Xynisteri (white grape) and Maratheftiko (red grape) are both indigenous to Cyprus.