Climate Change For Wine
Climate change is changing the world wine map in real time and may change the way wine tastes and it isn’t good news.
Can Climate Change Affect Wine?
Yes and that isn’t an answer you should take with too much alarm. Global warming has impacted humanity is so many ways already and we’re finding our more every day. Wine has in fact always been influenced by climate. Wine is essentially an agricultural product, made by fermenting grapes – that most vital ingredient – which viticulturists have always proudly declared as the collective result of terroir that includes soil, human effort and above all, climate. So the weather has forever shaped how wine tastes. Climate change however is changing wine in ways that’s aren’t always good news. On the bright side, grapes are maturing quicker and as the fruit is picked early, it is less vulnerable to seasonal shocks like sudden rain or hail which might occur just before typical harvest time. Certain grapes are also yielding more generous flavour thanks to warming growing conditions. Now that’s about as full the glass is. The negative impact of climate change is so blighting, the fruit doesn’t even get crushed to make the wine. No self-respecting winemaker will suffer the idea of vinifying bad grapes so there’s lots of fruit that is disposed. Some grapes that mature too quickly simply don’t develop the flavours that endear them to wine experts and enthusiasts – Pinot Noir is a classic example of that. Temperature spikes, unseasonal rain and hail storms have already wreaked havoc in French wine regions while wild fires have ravaged precious vines in California and South Australia. There’s also a deeply troubling fallout from the creation of new wine regions in the northern hemisphere as tilling the soil can release manifold levels of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The ‘cold’ bottom line is that if wine is as important to us as life itself, becoming conscious of and meeting the real challenge of climate change with urgency will have the bonus of savouring wine at its authentic best for generations to come.