Wine regions wiped out by projected climate change, disaster for some
Extreme heat may make spell the end for some wine regions as grape varieties become untenable. Photo / File Vintners and oenophiles love a good reason to whine, but this one is serious. Climate change predictions show that over half the world's wine growing regions will be wiped out at the current projected rate of warming. Researchers from Harvard University have said that just 2C of warming could reduce the amount suitable of grape-growing areas by up to 56 per cent. Worse still, the world's most famous wine-growing regions could be forced to uproot vine varieties and cull centuries of tradition as the average temperature makes them unsuitable areas for winemaking. In France, the study shows that Bordeaux could become a no-go zone for Merlot, and rising temperatures could let the fizz out of Epernay. Warmer temperatures mean the French Champagne capital would become unsuitable for cultivating vital Chardonnay grapes. The report published in the journal of the National Academy of Sciences PNAS said that "diversity" and identification of new wine-growing regions was the only way to "mitigate agricultural losses". With possible 4C warming there is a potential for 85 per cent loss of wine regions, if no replanting or forging of new wine regions were to take place: "diversity halved potential losses of wine-growing regions under a 2 C warming scenario and could reduce losses by a third if warming reaches 4 C." The researchers realised that there would be cultural and legal barriers to overcome. If protected wine varieties are to survive if not in their traditional AOC or "appellation d'origine controle" there would have to be a shake-up of the wine-growing map. In France mellow white wine making regions could be uprooted and replanted with varieties of Syrah and Merlot, which are more suited to intense summer heats. Spain and California, which are famous for their red wines, are predicted to become entirely unsuitable to wine making. However, not all wine growing regions are expected to lose out from a warming climate. Some countries are expected to emerge from the "Vinocalypse" unscathed or even discover new wine producing areas. New Zealand, along with Germany were identified as places expected not only to survive but to gain in output. A warming climate could see Germany overtake France as a wine-producer, much to the chagrin of French winemakers. Under a projected 2C rise New Zealand's output of Pinot Noir could increase by 25 per cent as more southern areas become suitable for the grapes on a large-scale. Meanwhile, suitable regions for heat-loving grapes such as Merlot and Grenache, could double in New Zealand. "These areas could become suitable for warmer varieties like Merlot and Grenache, while varieties that prefer cooler temperatures, such as Pinot Noir, could expand ... into regions that are not currently suitable for growing wine," says Ingnacio Morales Castilla, one of the authors of the report. Meanwhile the vineyards in South East Australia, which are already limited in grape varieties by warm summer temperatures, could end up loosing large swathes of wine producing country. Rising temperatures could see a shakeup of the conventional wine varieties and the end of current wine regions as we know them. The current 2C target was agreed by the 2016 Paris Agreement as a way to put a stopper in man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Signed by 187 countries, the agreement was designed to slow climate change to less than 2C above pre-industrial levels in the next 100 years. However, the effect of this agreed minimum could be catastrophic to areas of agriculture and nature. Processes such as wine making are particularly susceptible to a warming globe and highlight the repercussions of even what has been deemed a "tolerable" rise in temperatures. Sunrise, sunset, space? Jae Hoon Lee's bucket list is literally out of this world.