In a warming world, we'll be drinking more homegrown wine

Some of the world’s best known wine growing regions, California’s Napa Valley and France’s Bordeaux region among them, are in for a rough time thanks to climate change.

In fact, the sources of the world’s most productive wine regions are likely to alter radically in the coming decades as climate change makes currently prime wine growing areas ill-suited to sensitive grape-growing conditions, while new areas will become ripe for wine growing.

On the flipside, New Zealand’s wine industry stands to benefit with the area suitable for wine growing here estimated to increase by up to 168 per cent. Existing areas will expand slightly, but newly suitable areas such as along the coast of Canterbury, will emerge as prime wine growing areas.

Research published today in PNAS considered 17 climate models applied to nine wie-producing regions. Two scenarios were examined – a 4.7C temperature increase by 2050 and a 2.5C increase by 2050.

Both scenarios present a grim outlook for the global wine industry:

– 85% decrease in production in Bordeaux, Rhone and Tuscany.

– 74% drop in Australia

– 70% fall in California.

– 55% decline in South Africa’s Cape area.

– 40% decline in Chile

New Zealand then appears well placed to expand production and its influence in the international wine trade. We rounded up some comment from New Zealand scientists at the Science Media Centre.

But lets not crack the champagne (or New Zealand Methode) just yet. Climate change will have all sorts of other implications that will see the wine industry’s gains tipped massively on the other side of the ledger as sea level rise, climate refugees and more extreme weather events cost us dearly. The changing climate will also have implications for biodiversity as new areas are cultivated for wine growing.

Write the authors:

Freshwater habitats may be particularly at risk where climate change undermines growing conditions for already established vineyards. Climate change adaptation strategies that anticipate these indirect impacts are particularly im- portant for creating a future that is positive for vintners, wine consumers, and ecosystems alike. Alternatives are available that will allow adaptation in vineyards while maintaining the positive ecological association that is valued in the industry.

Still, they suggest New Zealand is in for a slightly easier ride here too, thanks to our reasonably abundant water supplies.

The graphic below outlines the changing suitability for wine growing around the world under the modeled global temperature increases.

Source: Hannah et al. PNAS
Source: Hannah et al. PNAS

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