Just in case, if you are thinking of hollering your way through our bleak future with a good glass of wine…Well…A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is set to change all of that. There is some terrible news in stock for oenophiles.
According to Sarah Fecht, who writes for Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the world is soon going to see a massive change in the wine-grape growing regions. It’s said that the wine-grape growing regions could shrink by as much as 80 percent during the coming years as a result of the rise of degrees in temperature.
Is a change in climate affecting the wine-growing crops?
Since ancient times, wine has played quite an important role in our history – in fact, the ancient Romans were great lovers of wine, so much that they ensured that everyone, right from the slaves to the aristocrats, can enjoy wine on a daily basis.
But with the recent climate change, wine is taking quite an impact since the grapes from where the wine is made, they are very climate-sensitive, as mentioned by B. Cook from Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory from Columbia University.
Now, as per Fecht and Cook, the best course of action is to address the climate crisis as early as possible with everything that we have got. But regarding the grapes, there are a few ways on how to reduce the climatic impact on them. If diversity is increased within the crops, it may be one of the most foolproof ways to reduce the crops declining from climatic change.
After all, the wine crops from where we get our wine today, all of them were genetically related to the grapes that were grown in France, some 2, 500 years ago. And in more than one case, the researchers who have tested the grape seeds taken from France, they found out that we are drinking wine from the same grapes as the Roman emperors drank, some 800 years ago.
Now, while we may rejoice at this fact, it can get dampening, knowing the changes in climate are posing a danger to our beloved wine.
According to Z. Migicovsky, a researcher from Dalhousie University, if we are all drinking the wine from the same wine crop across the world, then, the bad news is that they will all suffer the same fate. So, it’s a great idea to opt for increasing the diversity within the grapes, as previously mentioned by Fecht and Cook.
As of now, there are 11 varieties of wine grapes – Blanc, Monstrell, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Chasselas, Merlot, Pinot noir, Syrah, Riesling, and Ugni Blanc. In the words of Migicovsky, the best way to reduce the impact of climate change on the wine grapes is to switch these varieties around.
In the words of Migicovsky, the losses of the wine crops can be overcome by planting a few in wine-growing regions, which will have a 2 degree Celsius warming scenario. It will be able to reduce losses by a third if it reaches 4 degrees Celsius in the coming future, and which Migicovsky warns, it will soon come. And thus, through diversity, if the wine crops are adopted by the local farmers, it can mitigate agricultural losses However, he says that the effectiveness of this whole process will depend on the global decisions that the world will take on future emissions.
But what’s more concerning is the current situation – with the rising degrees in global warming and no attempts being made, it’s alarming to know that more than 60 percent of the world’s wine-growing areas are no longer suitable for growing wine crops. If steps are not taken sooner, more than 20 percent will be lost in the coming months.
Examples are in the Burgundy region of France, Pinot noir can replace Mourvedre and Grenache, and Mourvedre can replace Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in Bordeaux – though Cook advises that merely swapping the varieties will not reap any benefits.
Solving the issue of climate change for wine-growing crops
Talks and conversations are going on in Europe about making new legislation on how to make it easier for major wine-growing regions to swap the varieties, but it will be of no use if the local farmers – as previously mentioned – won’t take any steps to revive them. Said differently, the local farmers will have to learn how to grow these new varieties, and it’s going to be a big obstacle for them since they are used to grow the same variety for hundreds and hundreds of years. Plus, it’s also not helping that these local farmers will have to find consumers who are willing to accept a different kind from their favorite region.
But there’s good news too.
The process is slow, but wine crops such as Grenache and Merlot – even though they prefer warm temperatures, the local farmers are seen planting in cooler wine-growing regions such as New Zealand and Germany.
On the other hand, the cooler varieties such as Pinot noir, are planted in regions that have long been preferred for warm varieties.
With the experimentations on wine-growing crops going on, we can safely say that our favorite wine is still up for taking – with the effect that the climate is having on these wine-growing crops. Likewise, many new countries are opening up to the wine industry.
Today, the regions that have a perfect wine-growing condition are shifting, and it’s even seen that vineyards have begun to pop up in the south of Sweden, England, Finland, and Denmark.
Perhaps, the best news amongst them is that a model from United Nations, as published in COSMOS magazine, predicted that the geography of where wine was grown previously has begun to shift today, and it’s an average 200 kilometers to the northern hemisphere.
It also helps that the winegrowers are seen trying various new methods to keep the wine industry alive – while trying to reduce the harmful effects of global warming on the wine-growing crops. Many are seen to buy high-altitude estates, where temperatures are cool, and thus having less exposure to the sun by planting wine-growing crops and harvesting earlier.