Green Grapes

A warming planet and wine production

No matter where you stand on climate change, the world we live in seems to be getting hotter, and wine producers are feeling the heat as they adapt to rising temperatures.

A warming planet is not only impacting the type of grapes grown, but leading to abnormally early harvest dates and even raised alcohol levels. It is also impacting historically significant wine growing regions, forcing producers to try hotter climate varietals and adapt their techniques - such as introducing canopy management techniques that shade vineyards against increases in temperature. This is not to say that local weather will necessarily follow this pattern - so not all regions can expect a rise in temperatures. But there is definitely a warming trend that many local wine producers have noted and begun planning for.

A warming planet and wine

Climate scientists have recorded a steady rise of the earth’s average temperatures since 1880.  The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - a group of scientists from around the world - have recorded an average global temperature risen of about 0.8° Celsius since then. They found this is already impacting agricultural yields, where crops are not as productive in the hotter, drier conditions. For wine production, temperature has a major influence on quality, especially in the few weeks before the grapes ripen. High temperatures make grapes ripen quicker and have higher sugar levels, but relatively fewer flavour compounds or polyphenols.

Higher temperatures = higher alcohol levels

Higher alcohol levels pose a problem for Aussie grape growers as the market has a clear preference for lighter, lower alcohol wines. The export market is also a factor, where some of the larger overseas retailers stipulate a maximum alcohol level. Higher temperatures also impact harvest time, where farmers need to get their grapes off the vines a lot quicker than before, or risk their crop over-ripening. They also need to be able to process their crop in a much shorter timeframe, which puts pressure on their resources.

New areas of wine production

But like everything, where there is change, there is also opportunity… and the rise in global temperatures is creating opportunities for wine production. New regions of the world are already beginning to get in on the act, with Britain now producing sparkling wines that are well received. Climate models suggest that Poland and Austria could also develop favorable conditions, as may the highlands of central China. Closer to home, some producers have already shifted cool climate varietals - like Pinot Noir and sparkling whites - from Victoria to Tasmania. Tasmania's cool, maritime climate is perfect for producing these wines, so we may see more production move there if the warming trend continues.

Not that this will impact the innovative processes used to produce our range of alcohol free wines . Not only are they non intoxicating with half the calories of ‘normal’ wine, they also still have the same levels of healthy antioxidants. Why not find a local stockist for a taste test or purchase online at shopedenvale.com.au ?Sources: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-05/farmers-and-businesses-take-action-on-climate-change/9502320 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-04/how-climate-change-is-affecting-the-wine-we-drink/8074252 https://theconversation.com/australian-wine-industry-tackling-climate-change-16758

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