This Is How Climate Change Could Affect Wine

There are a million different reasons to worry about the effects of climate change, but one that you may not have thought about yet is the effect it will have on the wine industry. As regions of the earth grow warmer, certain areas will no longer be suitable for the growing of wine grapes. Significantly, more so than other agricultural products, wine grapes react drastically to even minor changes in temperature. As a result, over time, it is predicted that in established wine growing regions climate change will lessen the number of cool nights needed for wine grapes to properly mature (via Food and Wine).

California faces an equally scary climate-related problem with its grapes. In the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, grape growers are concerned with the annual occurrence of forest fires which have become commonplace in recent summers. However, California isn't the only place that has had vineyard threatened by wildfires. Last year in Australia, 1,500 hectares of vines were destroyed in the Adelaide Hills wine region (via The Guardian).

Winemakers respond to the problems posed by climate change

On the other hand, regions that traditionally haven't seen wine agriculture in the past because they've been too cold, such as England, may gradually be able to enter the wine business (via Time). In fact, champagne houses which have flourished for years in Champagne region of northern France have decided to set their sights further north as the climate warms. They've begun buying up British vineyards in an effort to diversify their wine portfolios if things in France go south (via NBC News).

Ultimately, wine makers will have to continue to respond to how climate change impacts wine production, but this isn't always a bad thing. "Warming does have the ability to create a situation in which some varieties may actually do better," Professor Gregory Jones, director of the Evenstad Center for Wine Education explained to Wine Enthusiast. "If you're growing a cool-climate variety in too-cool conditions and it suddenly warms a little bit, you're going to get more consistency, and more consistently good vintages." 

"With every vintage, we learn new things from nature and react individual to given situations," says Yquem Viehhauser, of Baden's Weingut Bernhard Huber. And so, the wine business will continue to evolve along with climate change, it seems.