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Climate change + wine quality


Hi all,

I thought I would start a quick thread about the impact of climate change on wine quality and possibly quantity. With all of the historic wine regions getting hotter and now slightly cooler wine regions starting to become more suited (such as the UK), I was just thinking how this is positive for us, the consumer.

Just thinking back to some of the classic French regions historically where certain sites on south facing slopes or in ever so slightly warmer parts of the region were highly prized due to the grapes ripening slightly better.

Now that regions are getting warmer these historic sites might start to get too warm meaning that grapes might become over ripe (without vineyard management) which also means the slightly less desirable cooler parts of the regions might then become better suited.

This might mean there could be some larger hidden regions that might start producing top quality wines where before they would struggle to fully ripen grapes.

I guess that it also boils down to the fact that us as wine consumers are in the slightly better position of quality wine being easier to grow as its easier to ripen grapes in the slightly warmer climate, coupled with the improvement in technology.

Just a random thought I just had that I wanted to share and see what others think on the subject.


I think Marcel suggested in his AMA that some of the Alpine regions like Savoir and Jura might start getting very interesting as things get warmer.


But it is potentially catastrophic for some very warm regions like southern France - CNDP producers are ripping up Syrah and planting Mourvèdre and Grenache vats from some galet plots are coming in at 16.5% alcohol in warm years.

We are already seeing a lot more quality Vin de France from previously marginal sites in the northern Rhône, aided by the fact that a chunk of high altitude St Joseph is getting declassified from the AOC - I have had an email this morning about some very good value VdF from just above the redrawn AOC boundary - and with Condrieu prices skyrocketing it wouldn’t surprise me if we started to see more Viognier in this mould as well.


In the very long term it must be bad. As the suitable grape growing regions get nearer and nearer to the poles, the amount of available land gets smaller and smaller. Probably will need to be used for more survival critical crops than grapes too!


You mean grapes aren’t a critical crop? :open_mouth:


That’s definitely what I worry about too! Growing vines for wine is a luxurious form of agriculture, and with water shortages, and some areas which were once fertile becoming less and less usable - wine might be the last thing on our minds. The land may well be more appropriately used to grow food (and that’s before even considering population growth and the inevitable need for land).

Scary stuff, for sure. God knows how we messed it up so much.


Won’t there be periods of adjustment and therefore poorer quality? Winemakers will need to adjust to different soils, and other differences in growing conditions, and however expert they are this won’t be instantaneous (compare French/Spanish producers setting up in the US).


I was thinking that. There is a great deal to be written on this subject on a whole host of aspects, but the age of the vines in new areas would affect the quality of wine they produce. Similarly, the loss of acres and acres of vines of 50/70/100 years old would be a terrible shame.


I see your point but suppose this will depend if it’s a case of planting new sites or if existing “lesser” sites become more favourable than the current “premium“ ones


Interesting article to keep with the theme of climate change by Andrew Jefford:


Really moving, and beautifully written - as you would expect from Jefford. Thanks for sharing! :+1:


We are seeing the same in Argentina. Winemakers in Mendoza are very concerned and across the country they are looking for higher and more southerly sites for the production of fine wines.


Interesting article on substituting different grape varieties or clones in today’s FT.


I don’t buy into this myth about the loss of agricultural land. A growing population needs housing. And an increasing number of us want more than one. We build in the Green Belt because people aspire to living in lush countryside. A weekend cottage in an ex-industrial site doesn’t have the same allure. People don’t want fox hunting so we turn the countryside into golf ranges instead. Some agricultural areas have been intentionally flooded to provide wetland areas for dickie birds.

As for growing crops, TWS members have already noted that technology has/is changing. An example is the move towards poly tunnels. This is a good thing because there are fewer crop failures. English tomatoes can ripen in February, whereas it would be August if grown in the open. I can certainly forsee grapes being grown under glass………… as they once were!


I don’t see huge competition between vineyards and commercial food agriculture. I may well be wrong here but I was under the impression that land suitably fertile for most commercial crops would be unsuitable for grape vines. Aren’t most vineyards on land that really isn’t suitable for other crops; stony land that forces the vines to sink deep roots to get the necessary nutrition and water? Most commercial crops (other than fruits) are annuals that simply wouldn’t work on such ground.


Not a UK problem I think, but know what you mean. Too many people on planet problem.


Not in the literal sense, but if water shortages prompt large masses of people to escape inhospitable environments, than as a country we may well see a rise in refugees in search of viable places to live.


I refer to my second comment…too many people for a sustainable future.


Indeed. Can’t argue with that :frowning:


They still are, but for very limited quantities of eating grapes. Growing grapes under glass for wine is just not realistic. Poly tunnels are used for fairly intensive crops.

Most good wine is grown on land that’s pretty marginal for many other crops at best.