What is someone's food could be another man's poison,
they say. The old English saying would also imply what is someone's bane
could be boon for another.
Global warming, which is threatening the viability of
the drought-stricken wine industry and hence is presently the bane of
Australia, could be a boon for neighbouring New Zealand which has been
enjoying a growing reputation for its quality wines but has not been able
to produce enough..
New Zealand's flavoured wines, mostly Sauvignon Blanc
but also reds like Pinot Noir, are appearing on the wine lists of fine
dining restaurants from Delhi to Dallas. They continue to win medals at
prestigious international competitions. Its Pinot Noir was judged the
Best Red in the world even in the India Wine Challenge held a couple of
months ago in London and Delhi.
But the temperature has been too cold to cultivate wine
grapes like in Australia or California in many of its regions. But all
this may change in the near future with rising temperatures which are
presently causing havoc in the neighbouring Australia.
With an increase in expected temperature, some of the
existing areas which are too cold for grape growing may become feasible
and join Marlborough, Hawke's Bay and Gisborne in the quality wine reputation.
Says The new High Commissioner for New Zealand in India,
H.E. Rupert Holborow, ' Climate change is going to be a major issue across
the wine world. In new Zealand we will see warmer temperatures but also
marked changes in rainfall patterns which will all create challenges for
managing the vulnerable "terroir" of our wine regions. It will
also potentially open up large new areas in the Central North Island and
in Southern coastal regions of the south Island for wine production.'
Australia is their nearest and toughest competitor not only in cricket
but also in wine. A study by Rabo Bank in 2005 had concluded that New
Zealand wines were exported at about $4 a bottle in comparison with Australian
selling at almost half the price- the single most reason why they have
not been able to penetrate the price-sensitive Indian market so far. That
is telling the quality of the region.
' Our wines are well known for quality and we excel at
cool-climate styles.', adds the High Commissioner Holborow.' Tariffs and
taxes do make our wines expensive in India but they are being recognised
for their quality and an increasing number of importers now have one or
more New Zealand wine labels in their portfolio.'
The increased growing area, especially in the mountainous
and volcanic regions would give the kiwis more production, hopefully keeping
the high standards of quality and help them push volumes and consequently
viability. This will also help them increase the number of producers from
the current 600+ although the big four control over 60% of the production,
similar to India where the top 3 control more than 70%.
Climate Change and Wine Conference
How much of the climate change will really benefit New
Zealand and create problems for wine producers like Australia will be
part of the subjects of discussion and debate at the second Climate Change
and Wine Conference which opens today in Barcelona.
Organised by the Spanish Wine Academy, associates of
the Indian Wine Academy it is being held on 15 and 16 February to discuss
various issues relating to the global warming and climate change and their
impact on vine and wine making.
The subject has been hotly debated in recent times, perhaps
next only to the controversy on the use of corks vs. screwcaps of which
there is hardly any between New Zealand and Australia with the former
having embraced almost 80% screwcap usage.
The conference will discuss issues like-Why climate is
changing and its impact on agriculture, Global Warming and its impact
on vines and viticulture, Impact of Climate Change on the industry and
consumer, Observations, predictions, and implications of climate change
on global wine production, The Future of the wine industry under climate
The panel of eminent speakers includes Dr. Hans Schultz
(Germany), Santiago Minguez (Spain), canopy management expert Dr. Richard
Smart (Australia), OIV President Peter Hayes (Australia), Bruno Prats
(France), Ernie Loosen (Germany), President of Spanish Wine Academy- Pancho
Campo and Michel Rolland (France)
Ironically, the concluding part of the Conference is
video-conferencing from the USA on 16th with the environmentalist and
former US President, Al Gore who will talk about 'The Inconvenient Truth'.
The inconvenient truth is that Mr. Gore had confirmed
to be the keynote speaker at the conference and the organizers had also
re-affirmed it at the seminars on Climate Control I had attended during
the wine shows, Vinoelite in Valencia and Fenavin in Ciudad Real. But
that was before he won the Nobel Peace Prize. So, his inability to attend
personally would not have come as a shock to the organizers.
There will be plenty of experts who would throw more
light on how much the climate change will help New Zealand or what Australia
can do to improve its viticulture and winemaking in the face of changing
climate in order to maintain its leadership in exports.