Climate change rewrites world wine list

Mar 26, 2013 by Suzanne Mustacich
Photo illustration of a tasting session at a wine estate in France in 2012. As new frontiers for grape growing open up, the viability of some traditional production areas is under threat from scorching temperatures and prolonged droughts.

It's circa 2050 and shoppers are stopping off at Ikea to buy fine wine made in Sweden. A Nordic fantasy? Not according to climate experts who say the Earth's warming phase is already driving a wave of change through the world of wine.

As new frontiers for grape growing open up, the viability of some traditional production areas is under threat from scorching temperatures and prolonged droughts.

And in between the two extremes, some long-established styles are being transformed. Some whites once renowned for being light and crisp are getting fatter and more floral while medium-bodied reds are morphing into heavyweight bruisers.

"Some people are alarmists, I prefer to be an optimist," says Fernando Zamora, oenology researcher and professor at Rovira i Virgili University in Tarragona, Spain.

"I have no doubt that we will still have vineyards in traditional regions, but we have to think of new strategies. And we will also have new zones for vineyards. That's for sure.

"Already in Germany they are making fine where it used to be very difficult. And in Denmark, now they've started making wine."

Climatologists working with the around the planet predict temperatures will rise by one to two degrees Celsius from now until 2050, a trend that is expected to be accompanied by an increase in the incidence of .

"Can any region continue to grow the exact same varieties and make the exact same style of wines? If what we know today is correct, that is highly unlikely," said Gregory Jones, oenology professor at Southern Oregon University.

New vineyard projects in will be risky given the increased unpredictability of the weather and the potential for one to destroy an entire crop.

So it may be that the biggest change will come in the range of wines produced in areas that, until recently, have struggled to ripen some varieties.

Tasmania, parts of New Zealand, southern Chile, Ontario and other parts of Canada, England and the Mosel and Rhine areas in Germany are among the regions that could benefit.

Part of the Chateau Guiraud premier grand cru classe wine estate in Sauternes, France, on February 23, 2012. Climate experts say the Earth's warming phase is already driving a wave of change through the world of wine.

"You can look anywhere in the world where there are relatively cool climate regions that today are much more suitable than they were 30, 40, 50 years ago, because the climates were too cold then. People couldn't ripen fruit," added Jones.

Like Zamora, Jones forms part of an international committee for the agriculture and forestry climate change programme (ACCAF) run by France's research institute INRA.

They are tasked with formulating strategies for helping everything from the plant to legislators cope with climate change.

While wine grapes might not be necessary to feed the Earth's population, the grape vine is more sensitive to climate than plants like rice, corn and soyabeans, which could provide valuable insight for essential future food supplies.

Vitis vinifera, the plant that gives us fine wine grape varieties, is a prolific wanderer that has a fine-tuned sense of the right place to take root and grow perfect grapes.

Water stress, temperature change, inopportune downpours and frosts are just a few of the variables that have profound effects on the balance of sugar and acidity, the ripeness of tannins, and the palette of aromas.

"In Alsace (northeastern France), is already a problem, because it's changing the aromatic profile, the balance of sugar and acidity. If the consumers accept the changes, it's not a problem. If they don't, it is," said Jean-Marc Touzard, a co-coordinator of ACCAF.

Producers of Beaujolais meanwhile see warmer weather improving the quality of their product in a region where winemakers have sometimes had to add sugar to bolster alcohol levels in their quaffable reds.

"In 2003 (when France suffered a severe summer heatwave), our wines tasted more like Cote du Rhone," said Jean Bourjade of the growers group Inter Beaujolais.

"Beaujolais has seen that they can make better wine in a warmer climate, so there is a benefit. But is there a limit to that benefit? Does it go on forever?" said Jones.

"For ten years, they'll be happy. Then they'll have problems," predicted Touzard.

The Languedoc region around the Mediterranean already faces these problems. Hotter, dryer weather is making the area's already-robust wines more full-bodied and more alcoholic, at the expense, some say, of finesse.

But all is far from lost.

"In the Languedoc, the growers have already begun adapting—planting at a higher altitude and on different soils," said Touzard.

Another solution is to change the grape varieties legally allowed under Europe's strict appellation laws, sourcing the indigenous varieties from hot weather climes like Sicily, Greece, Spain and Portugal.

Researchers also say that once these grapes have been genetically decoded, they could be used for plant breeding.

Portugal alone has between 100 to 150 indigenous varieties that we know virtually nothing about, according to Jones.

"Some of the more southern, really warm places that have genetic material could be a real hotbed for dealing with heat tolerance in the future, "said Jones.

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User comments : 17

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IanC1811
5 / 5 (5) Mar 26, 2013
When I was a boy (~1965) our next door neighbour (in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia) grew wheat and barley occasionally. This made him the most southerly grain grower in Australia at the time (latitude 38 S). Now they grow wheat in Tasmania.
triplehelix
1.8 / 5 (10) Mar 26, 2013
Seems legit,

Yours sincerely, someone in April covered in snow.
triplehelix
1.8 / 5 (10) Mar 26, 2013
http://www.indepe...017.html

year 2000,

Now 2013, covered in the stuff. 2008-2011 massive winters, I built a 12ft snowman, and I live in southern most area of UK.

Currently we're seeing snow and temperatures rarely seen in March/April. Next year won't be much different.

I don't for one second believe Sweden will have vineyards.
ScooterG
1.5 / 5 (8) Mar 26, 2013
I don't for one second believe Sweden will have vineyards.


And if we do, so what? Few identifiable groups of people are more resourceful and adaptive than farmers - they'll be just fine if the climate changes. Regardless, no-one will ever go without wine due to climate change.

Besides, wine is a luxury. If you wanna hear the liberals scream, mandate all vineyards be converted to produce biofuel products - hahahaha

It's time to stop wasting time and money on "what if" scenarios that likely will never happen.
Maggnus
3.2 / 5 (10) Mar 26, 2013
Seems legit,

Yours sincerely, someone in April covered in snow.


Should read "someone in Britain wielding a shield of ignorance and a sword of misconception"!
triplehelix
1.6 / 5 (8) Mar 26, 2013
Ah Maggnus we meet again.

Year 2000 we had people stating how Britain would never see snow again. 13 years later and we're covered in the stuff. Nature does what it wants, we can't even predict it, let alone control it.

Genuinely hope you're a young chap Maggnus, because minus freak accidents, statistically I should be alive and well in 2050, and I will be enjoying snow then still too. If this site still exists I'll send along a message with me and a snowman.
antigoracle
1.4 / 5 (10) Mar 26, 2013
Genuinely hope you're a young chap Maggnus...

It won't matter to him. Maggnus belongs to a cult and as they go, when their fallacy of doom and gloom fails, it's closely followed by poisoned cool-aid.
Maggnus
3.1 / 5 (7) Mar 26, 2013
It won't matter to him. Maggnus belongs to a cult and as they go, when their fallacy of doom and gloom fails, it's closely followed by poisoned cool-aid.


I KNOW! All being a CULTIST an dat! All be FALLACING and DOOMING an stuff! Hid'en dem FACTS and drinking COOL-AIDE and STUFF! ALL HIDING an all! Being all SNOOKERED an stuff! You GO gurl!
antigoracle
1.7 / 5 (11) Mar 26, 2013
I KNOW! All being a CULTIST an dat! All be FALLACING and DOOMING an stuff! Hid'en dem FACTS and drinking COOL-AIDE and STUFF! ALL HIDING an all! Being all SNOOKERED an stuff! You GO gurl!

I must retract my previous statement. Maggnus obviously drinks stupid-aid.
Maggnus
3.5 / 5 (6) Mar 26, 2013
If this site still exists I'll send along a message with me and a snowman.


And a bottle of fine scotch! At least make it a bet! I sincerely hope we are both here, and as the slow motion calamity that is climate change becomes ever more apparent, I hope to come by to collect and drink it with you.
Maggnus
3.4 / 5 (8) Mar 26, 2013
I must retract my previous statement. Maggnus obviously drinks stupid-aid.


I KNOW! ALL DRINKNG an being all STUPID an stuff! All under dat GORE an all LYING an FAK'EN an ALL. YOU tell em GURL!
rubberman
3.3 / 5 (8) Mar 27, 2013
Damn Maggnus! You gots ta git paid on dat one yo!

Sincerly,

A canadian who hasn't needed snow tires in 4 years....(save for the odd blizzard where the snow never lasted longer than 2 or 3 days)

@TH- The UK is in kind of an interesting geographical location. If the thermohaline conveyor shifts it's northern extent in either direction, you guys get colder winters no matter what.

This shift is very likely to happen, which is one of the reasons most climate models predict colder winters in the UK, regardless of which climate change scenario unfolds. Southern England....Northern Newfoundland....same Latitude
antigoracle
1 / 5 (8) Mar 28, 2013
A canadian who hasn't needed snow tires in 4 years....(save for the odd blizzard where the snow never lasted longer than 2 or 3 days)

Wow, you must tell us where in Canada is this Global Warming paradise you live in, I'm sure every Canadian would like to know.

@TH- The UK is in kind of an interesting geographical location. If the thermohaline conveyor shifts it's northern extent in either direction, you guys get colder winters no matter what.
This shift is very likely to happen, which is one of the reasons most climate models predict colder winters in the UK

thermohaline conveyor shifts.. is another phenomenon the GW Alarmist use to foretell doom and gloom. The recent cold winters in the UK is the result of a dip in the jetstream. This shift is only BELIEVED to happen during ice-ages. What a ReTurd.
ReTurd - A Turd who blindly regurgitates GW Alarmist crap.
rubberman
4 / 5 (8) Mar 28, 2013
A dip in the jet stream....at 50 degrees N latitude as your southernmost point and you believe cold weather only results from a dip in the jet stream. I suppose you think the palm trees are indigineous to Scotland too. Dips in the jet stream occur multiple times yearly, not just during ice ages... genius, thats how it snows in florida occasionally during the winter. The Thermohaline is the only reason British people suck at skiing and hockey and as evidenced in past episodes, can and does change intensity and location.

Got any more steaming piles of denialist stupidity I can regurgitate all over with observational evidence and facts, or is your cute little made up word and definition the best ya got?
antigoracle
1 / 5 (6) Mar 28, 2013
A dip in the jet stream....at 50 degrees N latitude as your southernmost point and you believe cold weather only results from a dip in the jet stream. I suppose you think the palm trees are indigineous to Scotland too. Dips in the jet stream occur multiple times yearly, not just during ice ages... genius, thats how it snows in florida occasionally during the winter. The Thermohaline is the only reason British people suck at skiing and hockey and as evidenced in past episodes, can and does change intensity and location.

Got any more steaming piles of denialist stupidity I can regurgitate all over with observational evidence and facts, or is your cute little made up word and definition the best ya got?

Can you Turds read and comprehend.(rhetorical) Try reading what I wrote Turd before responding and confirming the idiot you are. The recent cold UK winters are as a result of the jetstream dipping. The Thermohaline SHIFT is only BELIEVED to happen during ice-ages.
rubberman
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 28, 2013
Well now that you wrote what you meant...you're still clearly a moron. Northern hemispherical ice age driven glaciation actually cant occur unless the gulf stream is disrupted, however warmer ocean temps., changes in wind currents and salinity are all factors associated with this current and altering any one of these factors can change the current.

Now I had to really dig around for evidence that the air and sea temperatures in the artic have risen in the last few decades but believe it or not, I found a couple of scientific papers and one or two satelite photos which displayed this evidence very well.

Perhaps you can find some evidence to support your point of view...and someone with above grade 6 writing skills to make your point for you next time.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (6) Mar 30, 2013
Northern hemispherical ice age driven glaciation actually cant occur unless the gulf stream is disrupted...

Silly me, here I thought the ice-ages, were as a result of the earth's position relative to the sun.

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