‘Climate Change Is Changing the Geography of Wine,’ Study Finds


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More heat waves and unpredictable rainfall could destroy vineyards from California to Greece by 2100, according to a new study, while at the same time creating ideal conditions for wine growing in the United Kingdom and other unexpected regions.

“Climate change is affecting grape yield, composition and wine quality. As a result, the geography of wine production is changing,” the study said. “About 90% of traditional wine regions in coastal and lowland regions of Spain, Italy, Greece and southern California could be at risk of disappearing by the end of the century because of excessive drought and more frequent heatwaves with climate change.”

The researchers looked at the effects of drought, increasing temperatures and changes in diseases and pests on wine regions across the world, reported AFP. They found that there was a “substantial” risk of 49 to 70 percent of wine-producing regions losing their economic viability, depending on the level of global heating.

“Climate change is changing the geography of wine,” said lead author of the study Cornelis van Leeuwen, a viticulture professor with the Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin at Bordeaux University and Bordeaux Sciences Agro, as AFP reported. “There will be winners and losers.”

The study, “Climate change impacts and adaptations of wine production,” was published in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment.

“You can still make wine almost anywhere (even in tropical climates)… but here we looked at quality wine at economically viable yields,” said van Leeuwen, as reported by AFP.

Up to a quarter of vineyards could experience improved wine production, with totally new winegrowing regions emerging at higher altitudes and latitudes, according to the study.

“Warmer temperatures might increase suitability for other regions (Washington State, Oregon, Tasmania, northern France) and are driving the emergence of new wine regions, like the southern United Kingdom,” the study said.

It will all depend on how much global temperatures rise. If global heating stays within the two degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average set by the Paris Agreement, wine regions will have to adjust — most will survive.

“Existing producers can adapt to a certain level of warming by changing plant material (varieties and rootstocks), training systems and vineyard management. However, these adaptations might not be enough to maintain economically viable wine production in all areas,” the study explained.

In the face of more extreme warming, “most Mediterranean regions might become climatically unsuitable for wine production,” the study said, according to AFP.

The study added that, in the lowland and coastal areas of Greece, Italy and Spain, roughly 90 percent of wine regions “could be at risk of disappearing by the end of the century.”

And Southern California could watch as many as half of its famous wineries dry up.

Meanwhile, northern parts of the United States — like Washington State, the Great Lakes and New England — could become premium wine producing regions.

Van Leeuwen said France may need to turn to more resilient varieties of grapes such as Chenin for whites and Grenache for reds.

The viticulturist discouraged the use of irrigation to make up the difference in a warmer world.

“Irrigated vines are more vulnerable to drought if there is a lack of water,” Van Leeuwen said, adding that using such a scarce resource to irrigate hardy crops would be “madness,” as AFP reported.

This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on EcoWatch and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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