Climate changes will produce wine winners and losers

Jul 31, 2013

In the not too distant future, your favorite French wine may not come from its namesake region or even from France!

Climate change is altering growing conditions in wine producing regions and in coming decades will change the wines produced there, in some cases shifting to new areas the growth of grape varieties long associated with regions further south, says leading and wine expert Antonio Busalacchi (pictured right) of the University of Maryland.

"Climate change will produce winners and losers among wine growing regions, and for every region it will result in changes to the alcohol, acid, sugar, tannins, and color in wine," says Busalacchi, who directs the UMD Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center and chairs the World Climate Research Programme's Joint Scientific Committee and the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate.

Busalacchi and research assistant Eric Hackert have analyzed on 24 of the world's major wine producing regions; providing snapshots of what conditions will be like at the middle and end of this century. Busalacchi notes that several Champagne houses already are looking at land in Sussex and Kent in southern England as potential sites for new vineyards because as climate warms the region is becoming more hospitable to quality grape growing. The in the region, as seen in the white cliffs of Dover, is similar to the chalky substrate of Champagne, and the cost of land is 30 times less than in France.

"Vineyards in , at higher altitudes or surrounded by ocean will benefit from climate change with more consistent growing seasons and a greater number of favorable growing days," he says.

"These include the Rhine in Germany, U.S. states Oregon and Washington, the Mendoza Province of Argentina and New Zealand." says Busalacchi who comes from a family of restaurateurs, is an advanced sommelier and operates a wine and vineyard consulting firm. 

On the other hand, Bordeaux (pictured left) and some other regions will suffer compressed that yield unbalanced, low acid wines that lack complexity.  South Africa and South Australia, likely will see declines in wine production due to severe droughts, according to Busalacchi. More generally, extreme events such as heat waves that shut down photosynthesis and hail storms that can ruin a chateau's annual production in a matter of minutes will become more commonplace.

In both warm and cooler regions, one result will be the same; wines will lose their traditional character.

"Taken to an extreme, a wine from the Left Bank of Bordeaux may move away from the classic aromas of cedar cigar box, blackcurrants and green pepper and more toward the full, rich, spicy peppery profile of a Chateauneuf-du-Pape from the Southern Rhone," says Busalacchi. "Given that most grapevines produce fruit for 25 to 50 years, grape growers and makers must consider the long term when determining what to plant, where to plant, and how to manage their vineyards."

Explore further: Researchers track ammonium source in open ocean

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Wine feels the effects of a changing climate

Jan 08, 2013

The signs of climate change are universally evident, but for French winemakers, already feeling the effects of competition from other countries, the year of volatile weather does not bode well. A lot of rain, ...

Climate change rewrites world wine list

Mar 26, 2013

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 ...

Pandas vs pinot as vineyards adjust to warming

Apr 08, 2013

Which is more important, pandas or pinot? Researchers say that is a question conservationists and wine-growers will have to answer in the coming years as climate change sparks a hunt for cooler places to ...

Wine producers leading climate change adaptation

Feb 22, 2013

A new study investigating wine regions' adaptation to climate change has found that many wine producers in South Australia's McLaren Vale are leading the world at responding to future risk.

Drought leaves mark on Chile's wines

May 02, 2012

Chile's vineyard owners are expecting a slightly different taste and aroma to the wines they produce this year as they harvest grapes during an exceptionally long drought.

New way to identify 'smoked' grapes and wines

Jan 23, 2013

With climate change sparking concern about an increased risk of wildfires, scientists are reporting development of a way to detect grapes exposed to smoke from those fires, which otherwise could be vented ...

Recommended for you

Australia set to pay polluters to cut emissions

16 minutes ago

Australia is set to approve measures giving polluters financial incentives to reduce emissions blamed for climate change, in a move critics described as ineffective environmental policy.

TransCanada seeks approvals for pipeline to Atlantic

10 hours ago

TransCanada on Thursday filed for regulatory approval of a proposed Can$12 billion (US$10.7 billion) pipeline to carry western Canadian oil to Atlantic coast refineries and terminals, for shipping overseas.

Does it help conservation to put a price on nature?

14 hours ago

Putting a price on the services which a particular ecosystem provides may encourage the adoption of greener policies, but it may come at the price of biodiversity conservation. Writing today in the journal ...

Reef-builders with a sense of harmony

16 hours ago

Cold-water corals of the species Lophelia pertusa are able to fuse skeletons of genetically distinct individuals. On dives with JAGO, a research submersible stationed at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, scientists ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.