The Wine Industry and Climate Change
In the coming decades, the great wine-producing regions of the world could no longer be in France, Italy, Australia and California. They may well be in China, India, Sweden, Great Britain and Montana.
It’s indeed possible, say some climatologists. And it’s all due to climate change—or global warming, if you will—the steady warming of earth’s temperatures and increase in the amount and severity of extreme weather events, caused by the continued release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
By the mid to latter portion of the century, some scientists predict that temperatures in such wine-centric regions as Bordeaux, Champagne, Tuscany, Western Australia and California will rise to the point of affecting the quality of many of their signature grapes, as warmer weather increases grapes’ sugar content (and alcohol levels after fermentation) while simultaneously decreasing the acidity that gives these wines their backbone, balance and complexity. The famed “terroir” that makes Bordeaux, Champagne and other wines some of the best in the world could be compromised.
An increasing number of increasingly severe weather events, like heat waves, cold snaps and hailstorms, can also affect wine production and quality, as evidenced by hailstorms that last year wreaked havoc on vineyards in Bordeaux and Champagne.
In fact, according to the New York Times, some French vintners have already established vineyards in England, where they believe the climate will be more conducive to growing high-quality grapes. Other growers are making adjustments in their vineyards to combat rising temperatures, like trellising vines to limit their exposure to direct sunlight. Other growers may have eventually have to replant their vineyards to grapes better able to handle higher temperatures and longer time in the sun.
Montana Cabernet Sauvignon, anyone?