The vine: a perfect machine



The universe of wine and vine growing hold an almost allegorical metaphor of what the enormity of nature and its different creations represents.

Let’s take wine as an example. Like humans, it follows the same concept of biological cycle: birth, dynamic fullness, decline, and disappearance, all in a process of progressive oxidation that we could call death.

Both vines and humans equally suffer the harshness of summer as well as the severity of a gradual increase in temperatures as a result of the climate change that threatens us. And like humans, vines adapt to their environment and to the changes that take place in it, and are even able to reset their metabolisms to survive heat and drought.

That being the case, vines have developed three methods for adapting to water stress and drought that once again highlight the plant’s huge capacity for adaptation and, in turn, the wonders of nature. These methods are summarized below:

  • Escape mechanism: The plants themselves speed up or slow down their phenological cycles so they are not affected during periods of drought. An example of this kind of escape mechanism would be plants that sprout rapidly in very arid areas such as the desert.
  • Tolerance mechanism: This is a rapid response from the plant after perceiving an imminent water stress, aimed at maintaining cellular homeostasis, i.e. an internal steady state at the level of the cell. To do this, the vine must maintain negative hypo-atmospheric pressure in relation to the ground so it can absorb water from the This negative pressure is caused by the transpiration of water in the leaves. In really dry conditions, the vine closes its stomas (microscopic openings in the epidermis of the leaves) so the negative pressure between the leaves themselves and the ground increases, which, in turn, also affects the plant’s sugar and energy production.
  • Attenuation mechanism: Or how to optimize resources with minimal wear and tear.

In this case, the plant uses different mechanisms to regulate the management of its water status during the drought period. It does this by severely restricting the loss of water through transpiration – in other words, controlling its own sweat.

How? By slowing down the pace of its activity, reducing the production of leaves or curving them; increasing its verticalness; slowing down the pace of its growth or even causing accelerated and premature aging of the leaves themselves or even the grape bunches in exceptional situations of severe weather.

As we can see, nature never ceases to amaze us and it works to form analogies that show us its potential as creator (and transformer) of life, through perfect “genetic” planning that makes all living beings equal in existence itself, and irrevocably, in our deaths as well.

This is a sort of masterplan carried out by perfect machines, crafted or engineered by nature, that largely surpasses any concept or idea that humans may be capable of dreaming up.

Rafa Moreno

Categorías: Wine