This year we have experienced the hottest summer ever across Western Europe but equally the climate effects have been felt in North America and in the Southern Hemisphere earlier this year. “Climate change is impacting wine production, as the average global temperature is rising and extreme weather phenomena are increasing. As grape yields decline and wine prices rise.” (source: https://www.alko.fi/en/responsibly/sustainability-of-products/climate-change-is-threatening-the-wine-industry)
In Bordeaux for example ““They’ve had three spring frosty periods in the last five years (…) And before that, probably they hadn’t had one for 20 or 30 years. So these extreme climatic events seem to be more and more common. And that is what is difficult.” (source: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-61093929 ) If you now take into account that summer hasn’t even finished and they have experienced temperatures over 38C for almost a week (source: https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/france/bordeaux/historic?month=7&year=2022) you can only expect the wine taste and properties to be different.
“When you’ve got warmer temperatures, the fruit ripens and there’s a lot more sugar in the grapes, which gives you higher alcohol when you ferment. The alcohol in wine probably has increased by about two degrees over the last 30 years.” (source: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-61093929 )
One of the many consequences of climate change is the shortages of water as countries like France and Italy have been experiencing for the last years. (source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/05/world/europe/france-drought-europe-heat.html)
This will translate in more expensive wine production and also new techniques to keep the water from drying up.
A couple of weeks ago Western Europe experienced an unprecedented heatwave that dried out many of the grapes across France and Italy as well as Spain, posing a serious threat to wine consumers and fine wine investors. In Spain for example some producers are harvesting their grapes 10 to 15 days forward in early August at the peak of the heat and others have moved their vineyards to the Pyrenees in search for cooler temperatures. (source: https://phys.org/news/2021-09-uphill-spain-wine-growers-climate.html )
As a consequence of these extreme weather conditions of frost during winter and heatwaves during summer the global wine production “is set to drop to 250.3 million hectoliters in 2021, seven percent below the average for the past 20 years” This will be the third consecutive year that the world’s total wine production will fall below average levels (source: https://www.thelocal.it/20211105/italys-wine-production-falls-by-nine-percent-after-year-of-extreme-weather/#:~:text=FARMING-,Italy’s%20wine%20production%20falls%20by%20nine%20percent%20after%20year%20of,the%20effects%20of%20extreme%20weather.)
Italy’s agricultural industry has lost €2 billion in 2021 as a result of extreme weather events.Despite the hit to its wine production levels, Italy remains the largest producer of wines globally, followed by Spain and then France. (source: https://vinepair.com/articles/climate-change-italy-winemakers/ )
Grape varieties that are not indigenous to Italy such as Merlot, Chardonnay, or Pinot Noir are suffering a lot because they are ready to be harvested in late August and early September. As a consequence if the ripening happens even earlier in the hottest months of the year, the quality is much worse. Native varieties like Sangiovese or Nebbiolo are late-ripening, however, and can therefore cope better with rising temperatures. Historically, these have been favoured because the grape stays longer on the vine — giving it longer to increase its flavours.” (source: https://vinepair.com/articles/climate-change-italy-winemakers/ )
Fine wine will not cease to exist overnight for a year of extreme weather and most likely the short term consequence is a lower quantity production and a increase in price for certain regions. However, for other less affected regions the price might remain flat or go down a bit more. Yet, the big question remains “how the taste, body and quality will be?” and this might take years before we know it.
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