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Positive feedback for wines grown beneath solar panels

By Vitisphere November 21, 2022
Positive feedback for wines grown beneath solar panels
Tastings of Chardonnay and Marselan enabled participants to gain an even better understanding of the difference in ripeness levels. - crédit photo : Sunagri

olar panel manufacturer Sun'Agri always asks its customers to plant the same vines under the photovoltaic panels and on a control area adjacent to them. “In this way, we can monitor them from an agronomy perspective and demonstrate the benefits of the equipment on production”, said Damien Fumey, the company's R&D manager.

On 15 November at the Dionysud trade fair in Béziers, southern France, Fumey was able to show visitors wines produced by the demonstrator installed in 2018 at Pierre Escudié's vineyard in Tresserre, in the Pyrénées-Orientales area. “The winegrower planted 4.5 hectares of Grenache blanc, Chardonnay and Marselan under the panels and 3 hectares of the same grape varieties and rootstocks with no protection from the sun. They were harvested by machine on the same day and fermented using the same protocol by the Chamber of Agriculture”, explained Fumey as he opened the first two bottles of Grenache Blanc 2021 from the three-year-old vines.

Attendees were then asked to guess which wine came from the vines under the solar panels. “There are no big differences, but I think it's the one on the left. It has less colour. On the nose, I find it finer, and on the palate, it is less tannic”, said one person. Others agreed, and were proven right. “Although 2021 was rainier than 2022, the grapes from the vines protected during periods of strong sunshine lost less acidity and had lower sugar levels and phenolic compounds”, described the R&D manager. Sun'Agri is currently working on twenty or so photovoltaic shade installations across the Mediterranean wine regions.

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