Climate Change Impacts on Global Wine Production

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Climate Change Impacts on Global Wine Production

Increasing global temperatures will change how grapes are grown worldwide, affecting quality, composition, and yield. Traditional wine-growing regions in the world could also be at risk of disappearing towards the end of the century because of intense heat and droughts due to climate change.

A study in Nature, Climate change impacts and adaptations of wine production, published on March 2024, delves into the effects of climate change on wine production in traditional wine-growing regions, the need for adaptation and adaptation measures that growers could implement, and new areas that will become suitable for wine growing and its potential benefits.

The study highlights the economic value of grape production worldwide, noting that it is the world’s third most valuable horticultural crop, after potatoes and tomatoes, valued at US$68 billion in 2016. In 2020, 80 million tonnes of grapes were harvested, 49% of which were made into wine and spirits, 43% consumed fresh, and 8% dried.

A bottle of wine can cost anywhere between US$3 and over US$1,000 per bottle, depending on quality and brand. The brand that commands the price of wine depends to an extent on the region where it is grown and produced, one that has the “right variety in the right climate,” which is what makes the wine of premium quality, something that is seemingly more important than the soil type. With climate change, this foundational regional influence on wine quality and style is at risk.

Climate change effects on wine quality

The study presents examples of how the changing climate will affect wine production. Early harvest dates and increased alcohol levels have been observed in regions such as Bordeaux and Alsace (France). Further increases in temperatures in already hot and dry areas could make them unsuitable for growing grapes.

How temperatures affect the quality of wine

According to the study, wines exhibit a green and acidic profile when temperatures are too low. Conversely, when temperatures are too high, wines possess high alcohol and low acidity levels, featuring cooked fruit aromas rather than fresh fruit aromas.

While climate adaptation measures like changes in plant material or variety, training systems, and seasonal management practices can mitigate the effects of climate change, these measures can have their limits. They could affect the economic viability of wine production, and where shifting production to new suitable areas for growing can become a potential solution. Moving wine production to new areas could generate economic opportunities, but this comes with risks. Farmland conversion could threaten the local wild habitats.

Wine-producing regions and impacts of climate change

The study grouped each continent and its wine-producing areas into macro-regions defined by specific climate-driven conditions. It finds that the risk of unsuitability (ranging from moderate to high) for 49–70% of existing wine regions is contingent on the degree of global warming. Simultaneously, 11–25% of existing wine regions might experience enhanced production with rising temperatures, and newly suitable areas might emerge at higher latitudes and altitudes.

The study synthesised climate change effects on viticulture and wine production and assembled these results to produce a global picture of the changing geography of wine. The authors discuss the impacts of changing temperature, radiation, water availability, pests and diseases, and CO2 on viticulture and wine. They also discuss Potential adaptation measures and their limits. Finally, the implications of viticultural expansion are discussed and compared with historical shifts in production.

Read the study:

Climate change impacts and adaptations of wine production


van Leeuwen, C., Sgubin, G., Bois, B. et al. Climate change impacts and adaptations of wine production. Nat Rev Earth Environ (2024).

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