In Saxony-Anhalt in central Germany, the picturesque valleys benefit from a particularly sunny and dry microclimate and nutrient-rich soils, making them the ideal place for growing vines. Local farmers have been perfecting viticulture for centuries and today produce over 70 different types of wine.
Yet in recent years, climate change has taken its toll. Extreme weather conditions, from droughts to torrential rains, combined with rising temperatures, have a significant impact on the local environment and on the already sensitive processes of winemaking. That is why, in 2016, the LIFE VinEcoS project was launched. The aim was to test whether vineyards could better cope with climate change and extreme weather conditions if the biodiversity of the region increased.
And the results proved it. Wild seeds were sown on the steep slopes of the vineyards, increasing the number of plant species, and sheep were allowed to graze between the vines. Together, this has reduced soil erosion – especially after heavy rains – and retained more water in the soil to prevent the vines from drying out. Allowing nature to flourish also meant that the number of wild bees increased by 200%, which increased pollination levels.
The project serves as an example for other vineyards struggling with the threats induced by climate change. If we reduce monoculture, nature can become more resilient and have a chance to adapt to this new climate reality. Not to mention that the project has also made it possible to maintain more than 1,000 local jobs in the wine sector!