Some gas in my glass? Wine and climate change (3/3)

This article is the last of a series of three where I try to analyze the challenge that climate changes represents for the wine industry and the consequences for the wine consumer:

  1. How much does the wine industry contribute to climate change?
  2. How to reduce these impacts (reduction)?
  3. TODAY: What will be the medium and long term effects of climate change on wine production (adaptation)?

3. What will be the long term effects of climate change on wine production?

First of all, climate change will affect where wine is grown. The usual 30 to 50 degress latitude geographical area to produce wine may change. Some countries and areas that are currently too cold to produce wine, like Nortehrn England, may start planting vineyards in the next decades (see below).

world wine producing areas

In addition to that, climate change will affect the grape varieties that are grown and the styles of wines that are produced as a result of a longer growing season, increases in photosynthetic rate, changes in the range of certain floral and faunal pest species and increased water stress. We can for example expect that the South of England, that only produces wines using cool climate grape varieties like Riesling and Pinot Noir, will be able to grow varieties such as cabernet sauvignon and merlot in a few decades. We can also expect a change in wine quality in hot wine producting regions. As a matter of fact, reaching good acidity levels and full phenolic (flavour) ripeness will become more and more difficult in regions such as the Languedoc in France and La Macha in Spain.

Last but not least, climate change will have an influence on viticulture and vinification practices. In Beaune (Burgundy), the average harvest date is now 13 days before what it used to be in the seventies. Adapting grape varieties to the new local weather conditions will take time, therefore we can sadly expect, in the first time, the use of articficial means to counter-balance the effects of climate change: acidification, inverse osmosis to reduce alcohol level, etc.


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