Climate change is altering where wine grape growing is economically possible..and It may affect the quality of the wine.
Wine grapes are finicky, sensitive to subtle shifts in temperature, rain and sunshine. Climate change will create winners and losers in the wine industry. Coastal regions may be affected with extreme weather, while possibly, some French regions, like Bordeaux and Burgundy may experience better weather resulting in earlier harvests.
Grape varieties from northern Europe, including Britain, the US north-west and the hills of central China may flourish.
Earlier-than-average harvests, more frequently…That’s potentially a good thing for winemakers in the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions, where Cook and his co-author, Harvard University’s Elizabeth M. Wolkovich, focused their research.
For California winemakers, this could mean extreme conditions that make regions known for fine wine, like Napa and Sonoma counties, too hot to produce premium wines in the future.
Areas that are currently the coldest of cool regions will become “more mainstream” in the future, assuming global warming continues, says Kym Anderson, Professor of Economics at the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University.
“Global warming is raising the limits of the latitude or altitude at which wine grape growing is economically possible, so new cooler regions are emerging, as with the Central Otago region of New Zealand and the Australian island of Tasmania over the past two decades, and more-recently the south of England”, said Anderson.
“The warmest parts of those regions will continue to grow, possibly with a style progressively more like that of a warmer region.”
As an example of the confidence in a region’s climate’s future, the famous Champagne house Taittinger confirmed plans to plant vineyards in Kent. Making it the first time that a Champagne house has committed to producing an English sparkling wine.
Global Warming Will Create New Wine Regions and Affect Quality of Wine
Cooler temperatures typically preserve the acidity in grapes and contribute to a slower ripening period, giving grapes more time to develop more complex flavors, but may result in lower alcohol wines.
Some of the existing cool wine growing regions include: New Zealand, northern France, Washington State, Chile, Northern Italy, South Africa, Austria. One emerging cool climate region who’s improving is the English wine industry, mentioned above, whose wines have gained increased recognition and awareness in recent years.
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