Thursday, October 15, 2009

Wine Growing and Climate Change

October 15 is Blog Action Day, an annual event where bloggers across the world unite to write about a single issue on a single day.  Through this collaboration conversation is sparked on an issue of importance across the web.

This year’s topic is climate change, and more than 4,000 bloggers from 123 countries are taking part, including many of the world’s largest blogs.

Climate change might be more devastating than you ever imagined. Global warming could lower the quality of wine in some of the world’s premier wine growing regions. (You may want to pour yourself a nice glass before reading further…)

One 2004 report stated that growing season temperatures have increased for most of the world's high quality wine regions over the last 50 years by an average of more than 3.5 degrees F. The temperature is expected to increase by another 3.5 degrees in the next 40 years.

According to a recent report by Greenpeace, France, famous for its unique wine varieties, stands to lose an important part of its cultural heritage as rising temperatures impact vineyards. The right climate is essential to grow premium wine grapes. Ideally it will be hot during the day and cool at night. Extremes in temperature can ruin otherwise good wine grapes.

The average annual temperature has significantly increased, leading to major shifts in the wine production calendar, according to the Greenpeace report. The harvesting season is occurring much earlier than normal and higher temperatures are proving detrimental to the vines. Wines end up having higher sugar levels and alcohol content while retaining less acids - which means they are unbalanced with an overripe flavor and heavier texture.

Other expected impacts are the increased risk of frost in spring, disease, and rotting. Wine authority Dr. Tony Jordan, speaking at an international wine symposium earlier this year in Australia, said that 'vineyards being planted now are going to be in the wrong place in 30 years' time'. A Melbourne University study has found that some areas could become too hot to grow wine grapes and growers might have to change to other varieties over the next couple of decades.

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