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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Friday, December 18 2009. 13:10

Climate Change and Future of Wine

Global warming will affect different regions in different ways and may even be a boon for areas with marginal climates, but it will have a huge impact on the styles of wine we drink, says Tim Aitkins MW who wonders if the newer Indian palates may develop taste for indigenous varieties like local specialties like Chhabri and Bangalore Purple.

The renowned vineyard consultant Dr Richard Smart has described climate change as “the biggest factor ever to affect the wine industry”. No one can deny that the world’s major vineyard regions are getting hotter. The climate scientist, Gregory Jones of Southern Oregon University, has calculated that average growing season temperatures in the world’s 27 leading wine regions have gone up by 1.3°c over the past 50 years. More alarmingly, he predicts a further hike of 2°c by 2050, with even bigger increases in parts of Australia, the Iberian Peninsula, southern France, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Sicily and California.

What price Champagne, for instance if, as one French academic predicts, the region that produces the world’s most expensive sparkling wine, gets as hot as Valencia now, by the end of the century, wonders Tim Without irrigation  vineyards in some hot, previously irrigated areas could die.

Indeed, the impact of climate change is already with us, says Aitkins. The Australian wine industry has estimated that more than a quarter of the country’s 8,000 grape growers could be forced off their farms in the next two years.

Inevitably, there will be winners as well as losers. The future could smile on places such as Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, Patagonia and Nova Scotia, not to mention England, which are currently regarded as minor players at best in the world of wine. It will also force existing wine regions to move their vineyards to cooler sites, or to try out different grape varieties, as they seek to minimise the impact of warmer temperatures. Some potential new combinations are very exciting: Tempranillo in Bordeaux or Pinot Noir in the Mosel Valley is a distinct possibility.

Of course, even without climate change, we will see a shift in the league table of the world’s largest producers, partly because of economics and the need to cut costs, but also because of developing domestic wine consumption in countries such as China and India, avers Tim. He refers to the wine merchant Berry Brothers & Rudd prediction that the former will be the largest producer by the middle of this century with its 400 existing wineries multiplying by a factor of ten.

India’s range of climates appears less favourable to wine, but who knows? The local thirst for wine is expected to double over the next two years (A hugely optimistic estimate, Mr. Tim Aitkins!- editor). And some Indian consumers may develop a taste for local specialties like Chhabri and Bangalore Purple.

If someone could develop yeast that produces lower alcohol wines, or a grapevine that accumulates sugar and therefore potential alcohol, at a slower rate, the commercial pressure to make them available could be very strong indeed.

Will we see a shift in the world’s most popular grapes, too? It’s hard to see a significant challenge to the so-called “Big Six” varieties- Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz), but consumer tastes may change. There are 10,000 varieties within the Vitis vinifera species, so there’s no shortage of choice.

The ten regions to watch for during the next 40 years, include Galicia in Spain, an article penned by Gerry Dawes claiming just that and which appears on our current issue of delWine Other regions are the UK, Mendoza in Argentina, Hawke’s Bay, Tasmania, Bio Bio Valley in Chile, Mosel Valley in Germany, Elim in South Africa, Sonoma Coast in California and the pre Alps in Italy which includes Veneto, Friuli, Lombardy and Trentino/Alto Adige regions in North Italy. Details are in Future of Wine.



Rajiv Seth Says:

The observed warming of the past 50 years appears to have benefited the quality of wine grown world wide through : 1)Longer and warmer growing seasons. 2) Generally less Frost Risk. 3) More consistent Ripening climates. However the predicted warming in the next 50 years presents numerous potential impacts and challenges to the wine inustry.

Posted @ December 28, 2009 19:36


kskarnic Says:

The impact of climate change on wineries in temparate zone would be disastrous. It may affect the qulity of the fruits/wines. This may augur well for the countries in the mediterranian and sub tropical zone where several varieties have not been put to wine making. As suggested India can use Bangalore purple and Gulabi which would provide a definite leverage for wineries.

Posted @ December 21, 2009 11:16


Ankit Chamoli Says:

The effect on the wine due to climate change will effect the current senerioa,as when temperature will be increasing the sun shine will be increasing thus there will be more dry berries or nobel rotted grapes..Thus it will provide good quality of wine.But the future of cool & Sprakling wine is under danger for that those country will enjoy the production where there is no direct rays of sun or a slight effect of global warming..

Posted @ December 19, 2009 13:22


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