Effect of water application on wine quality and yield in Carménère under the presence of a shallow water table in Central Chile

Jorge Jara1*, Eduardo A. Holzapfel1, Max Billib2, Jose L. Arumi1, Octavio Lagos1,and Diego Rivera1
Chile is the world’s leading producer of ‘Carménère’(Vitis vinifera L.), which in turn is an important variety in Chile, where vineyards are typically grown under irrigated conditions and a large percentage are located in valleys with similar water table levels to those of the study area. Different irrigation management strategies have been used to improve wine quality, such as water stress and deficit irrigations, but the presence of a water table has not been considered in extant literature. This study analyzes the effects of the irrigation regime on grape yield and wine quality when a shallow water table is located between 1.5 to 2.2 m depth during the irrigation season. Five applied water treatments: 0%, 20%, 40%, 75%, and 100% of estimated vineyard evapotranspiration (ETc) were applied in an own-rooted ‘Carménère’ vineyard located in the Peumo Valley (Chile) during three consecutive seasons (2004-2005 to 2006-2007). Applying 1400 to 9400 m3 ha-1 per season (100% ETc) had no substantial effect on the measured quality parameters, although grape production in the treatment without irrigation (0% ETc) was significantly reduced. Applying water at 20% to 40% ETc produced high yield (13 to 16 t ha-1), double the historical mean production, and high quality wine with the presence of a water table close to the bottom of the root zone.
Keywords: Drip irrigation, grape production, stem water potential, total polyphenol index, vineyard, Vitis vinifera.
1Universidad de Concepción, Facultad de Ingeniería Agrícola, Casilla 537, Chillán, Chile.
*Corresponding author (jcjara@udec.cl).
2Leibniz University of Hannover, Institute of Water Resources Management, Appelstr. 9A, Room 711, D-30167 Hannover, Germany.