Beautifully written article on adapting viticulture in Europe. Please do give it a read.
Warming temperatures associated with climate change are already affecting vineyards from France to Chile, often in beneficial ways. But as the world continues to warm, some traditional winemaking regions are scrambling to adapt, while other areas see themselves as new wine frontiers.
Fifty years ago, English wine was something of a national joke. “Wine making was for the very eccentric. It was drunk as a curiosity and often spat out,” says Richard Selley, Emeritus Professor of Geology at Imperial College, London and author of the book The Winelands of Britain. Wine has been made in Britain since the Romans imported it 2000 years ago. But production declined starting in the 17th century, due in part to cooling temperatures, and all but disappeared after World War I. Modern England’s chilly, rainy climate didn’t provide the minimal number of days of warmth and sunlight that even cooler-weather grapes need to ripen properly and make a commercial product.
Then came climate change. Between 1961 and 2006, temperatures in southern England increased an average of 3 degrees Fahrenheit. English wine came roaring back.
Today, there are about 400 commercial vineyards. English sparkling wines are beating their French rivals in international competitions. “We’ve noticed the climate has improved consistently. The weather has improved, the ripening period has become longer, and year after year we’re getting quality fruit,” says Chris White, the general manager of the Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, England’s largest vineyard at 265 acres. Denbies is anticipating an even warmer future. In 2010 it planted seven acres of Sauvignon Blanc vines, a grape originating from the warmer Bordeaux region of France.
Few products are more sensitive to changes in temperature than wine. So the rising temperatures and associated with climate change are already reshaping the industry.A French winemaker says over the last 25 years his harvests have moved from late October to early September.
Production as a whole is moving north (or south in the southern hemisphere) as opportunities open up in once-inhospitable areas. Meanwhile, vineyards in warmer climates are facing mounting problems as it gets hotter. Assuming projections of much hotter world prove true in the next 50 to 100 years, many winemakers will be forced to change their signature products, move, or go under. Many will go under no matter what they do.
Scientists have been analyzing the influence of climate and weather on wine since long before global warming became an issue. Over the past two decades, dozens of studies have mapped the emerging impacts of warming temperatures on vineyards in Europe, the Americas, Australia and elsewhere, and modeled the possible effects over the next 100 years. They paint a picture of accelerating change unlike anything seen before.
Read the rest of this beauty at Yale360.