The conjecture on global warming has gained momentum over the last few years and almost no industry has been left untouched by the looming economic and social upheaval as a consequence of whatever action is taken. As we work in the wine industry and rely on the environment to produce wine, including macro climatic, meso climatic, and mirco climatic effects, the direct effect of global warning on growing grapes for wine is significant.
Bordeaux in France, may no longer be viable as we know it, if global warming is indeed happening, and will cause climatic effects worldwide. Bordeaux red wines have a foundation of Cabernet Sauvingon and Merlot predominantly, and if global warming continues, the best vintages of Cabernet Sauvingon in Bordeaux may have already passed.
Therefore, growers will need to change the mix of varietals they have planted, or look at other regions or sub-regions. In France, however, the appellation system means this is nearly impossible. Many new world wine producing regions will have the benefit of being able to move to different areas for the same varieties and regional status.
In Australia, many warmer regions, are struggling with a lack of water and in some instances, vineyards have been left to fend for themselves. At the other end of the climatic range, cooler climates are ripening grapes much quicker, and harvest is earlier.
What is the global wine industry doing about it? The wine industry is actually a leader in actioning strategies to combat global warming. For example, the UK’s largest wine retailer, Tesco, have returned to transporting wine via canals where possible, to do their part in reducing carbon emissions. The Winemakers Federation of Australia has implemented it’s Environmental Policy that oversees and recommends strategies for the entire industry to adopt, in an attempt to be world environmental champions.
Al Gore praised the wine industry at the Wine and Climate Change Conference in Barcelona for initiatives it has undertaken in reducing global warming and mentioned some wineries’ strategies to switch to cleaner energy and implement carbon neutrality or offset policies as examples of good practice. Gore though, warned that much more needed to be done.
The consequences of Global Warming will do more to change the world wine scape than any pest or disease. He also points out that European producers have failed to realise that their strict regulations have inhibited their ability to fight the New World from taking their market share; in a similar way they may be seen to be so inflexible as to inhibit their opportunity to respond to climate change.
If you live in Australia, you should be in little doubt that climatic change is happening. However, there is conjecture as to if it is indeed caused by global warming, or by changing long term weather patterns.