Rob Moshein - The Austin Wine Guy

Serious Climate Change Challenges Facing Vineyards

April 08, 2013

A new paper to be published today, April 8,  in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals the results of a Climate change study focused specifially on vineyards world wide. The results are shocking, to say the least. The suggested impact will be substantial, in any best case scenario.

In this paper, Lee Hannah, the lead author and a scientist at Conservation International and his co-authors use 17 different climate models to anticipate which current wine areas will face increasing heat and loss of rainfall, and which areas will warm up sufficiently to be hospitable to viticulture in the future.

These results predict that under most climate models, as much as 47 percent of land suitable for wine grapes will be lost in the areas of Chile that have a Mediterranean-like climate. They also indicate that 59 percent of wine country in western North America — mostly in California — will be severely stressed by heat and declining rainfall, and that 74 percent of such land in Australia will no longer be compatible with viticulture.

The equivalent figure for Mediterranean areas of Europe is the most striking; 85 percent of currently suitable lands would become unfriendly to vineyards by 2050.

Robert Pincus, a scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado said in an interview "this is hard to argue with, this is robust."

Think of these implications, Gentle Reader.  85% of where wine is grown today in Europe will not be able to produce in just 35 years. If you are a young Somm or novice drinker under the age of 35. by the time you are 70 most of what you know about wine today will be only memories. Most likely Burgundy, Champagne, Bordeaux and the great Rieslings of Germany will probably be gone.  So will most of Italy and Spain's vineyards.  Napa Valley may well be gone also, along with Sonoma.

This will be a Brave New World, indeed.

This is serious.  I can't end on my usual note on this one. Nothing "cheery" about it.

Rob Moshein

Austin Wine Guy.

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