How Global Warming Impacts the Wine Industry

Unfortunately, you can’t drink your way through all your problems. 
Wednesday 12 February 2020
What does the future hold for wine regions? Photo: Unsplash

Climate change is real. But how does global warming impact the wine industry? According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), up to 56% of current wine-growing lands may no longer be suitable for vineyards if the planet warms by two degrees Celsius.

That figure rises to 85% if the temperature increases by four degrees, says the study, which used historical growing season data for 11 grape varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, to create its model.

pouring wine
So how do we limit the effects of climate change on wine? Photo: Unsplash

“In some ways, wine is like the canary in the coal mine for climate change impacts on agriculture, because these grapes are so climate-sensitive,” said Benjamin Cook, from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

A solution to global warming’s threat to the wine industry

The temperature targets are based on the Paris Agreement, which sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below two degrees. According to the PNAS study, cooler wine regions, such as New Zealand, the Pacific Northwest and Germany, would be relatively unaffected in this scenario.

However, there’s still hope for wine producers. In some cases, switching grape varieties could reduce losses by more than half, specifically by replacing grapes that thrive in cooler temperatures with warm-weather loving ones.

vineyards in wine regions
Vineyards are set to face the wrath of climate change.

Controversially, the study’s authors suggested that wine-growers in France’s famed Burgundy region could replace the predominant Pinot Noir with Grenache or uprooting the Cabernet Sauvignon for Mourvèdre in Bordeaux. They acknowledged that such change could come with a side serving of legal, cultural and financial challenges.

“That’s a big hurdle in some regions that have grown the same varieties for hundreds and hundreds of years, and they need consumers who are willing to accept different varieties from their favourite regions,” said co-author Elizabeth Wolkovich from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Source: AFP Relax News