Major achievements bringing us closer to the vineyard of the future

Thanks to technological developments by the Molecular Biology Laboratory, in 2019, a key milestone was achieved in the Strengthening of Plant Material Strategic Program.

Viña Concha y Toro’s Center for Research and Innovation (CRI), working together with the company’s agricultural department, has made substantial progress in applied research, aiming to address the quality, adaptability and productivity challenges facing the wine industry. 

Thanks to technological developments by the Molecular Biology Laboratory, in 2019, a key milestone was achieved in the Strengthening of Plant Material Strategic Program, with the first mother blocks of superior phytosanitary quality being planted in one of the company’s vineyards, bringing us closer to the vineyard of the future. This will enable us to obtain certified grapevines, and plant new vineyards with healthier and strengthened plant material, which will promote longevity, productivity and grape quality.  

“The purpose of these mother blocks is to provide us higher quality and healthier grapevines which are free from fungus and viruses. This will help us to achieve higher production levels with predefined quality parameters, resulting in more productive and financially viable vineyards”, said Viña Concha y Toro’s agricultural manager Carlos Valdivia.

 

 

Below, Viña Concha y Toro’s Molecular Biology R&D&I Manager, Felipe Gainza, tells us more about these major advances.

 

What is the Strengthening of Plant Material Strategic Program?

The aim of the Strengthening of Plant Material Strategic Program is to improve the sanitary and genetic characteristics of grapevines produced by the company’s nursery, in order to extend grapevine longevity and promote their ability to face climate change.

 

What steps have you followed to achieve this?

Since 2016, we have used molecular analytics tools (developed under the framework of the CORFO Portfolio 16PIDE-66727 project) to select grapevines that meet our superior sanitary and genetic standards in the nursery. In parallel, this plant material is being strengthened with beneficial microorganisms that will provide grapevines with better tools to face different stressors. With this new strengthened plant material, defined as Grapevines 2.0, we have started to assemble new mother blocks that will help us meet our objective of extending grapevine longevity and improving quality.

 

What are mother blocks?

Mother blocks are those vineyards or segments that are used to produce the budwood of each variety/clone (branches in the case of rootstock), which are used by the nursery to produce new grapevines.

 

What are their benefits?

Mother blocks represent a nursery’s genetic collection, enabling orderly and traceable production of rootstock, variety or clone combinations which allow us to implement new projects and/or renew current segments.

 

In which of the company’s vineyards are they planted?

The planting of mother blocks 2.0 started in 2019. The new mother blocks 2.0 are being planted in the nursery’s Pocoa Vineyard, close to the Lourdes Winery and the CRI. In parallel, we have started to withdraw previous mother blocks, and are no longer using segments of operating vineyards for the double purpose of producing both budwood and grapes, in order to focus budwood production in new mother blocks. 

 

What are the next steps, will more of these mother blocks be implemented?

The implementation of these mother blocks at the Pocoa Winery is designed to cover the company’s production needs in the medium and long term, and also considers the implementation of a seed bank (secure greenhouse) which enables plant material to remain healthy over time, giving rise to the possibility of producing certified grapevines in accordance with national regulations issued by Chile’s Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG).

 

From left to right: Gerard Casaubon, CRI’s Director; Felipe Gainza, Molecular Biology R&D&I Manager; Rosa Roa, Molecular Biology Analist; Álvaro González, I+D Manager; Pablo Rodríguez, Sampling Technician. (Absent in the picture: Paulina Arraño).