Climate Change

As the climate warms, wine-growing regions are at risk. Here's how diversity can save them

vineyard wine grape variety biodiversity temperature climate change heat continent cold new zealand italy spain seed agriculture

Under threat. Image: Unsplash/NICO BHLR

Thin Lei Win
Food Security Correspondent, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Climate Change?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Climate Change is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Climate Change

Global warming of 4C would threaten up to 85% of the world's wine-growing regions, according to a new study.

Imbibing a glass or two of your favourite wine could become a rare pastime unless growers swap grape varieties to adapt to climate change, researchers warned on Monday.

Global warming of 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit), a realistic prospect this century, would threaten up to 85% of the world's wine-growing regions - but planting different grape varieties or quantities could significantly cut losses, said a new study.

The international team of scientists said their work highlighted "the critical role that human decisions play in building agricultural systems resilient to climate change".

The researchers looked at the climate suitability of 11 varieties of wine grapes, which account for a third of the area planted globally and are prominent in many important wine countries such as France, Australia, New Zealand and Chile.

Have you read?

Switching to varieties that are more tolerant to heat could cut the loss of growing areas to 24% from 56% under average global temperature rise of 2C (3.6F) from preindustrial times, and to 58% from 85% with a 4C increase, they found.

In France's Burgundy region, currently cultivated varieties like pinot noir could be replaced with the heat-loving mourvedre and grenache, they said.

Cooler wine-growing regions such as Germany, New Zealand and the U.S. Pacific Northwest could also become suitable for grapes that thrive in warmer climes.

But top producers Italy, Spain and Australia - which are already hot - face the largest losses, they added.

Some big wine growers, particularly in Australia and California, also are facing losses of vineyards to worsening wildfires, as climate change brings hotter and drier conditions.

vineyard wine grape variety biodiversity temperature climate change heat continent cold new zealand italy spain seed agriculture
Dutch winemaker tastes red wine in Groesbeek, Netherlands. Image: REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

John Handmer, a Canberra-based science advisor for the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, said recent bushfires in Australia meant some vineyards were not just damaged but "gone" - and could take years to re-establish.

That would impact not only agricultural earnings - already hard-hit by drought in Australia - but also tourism in wine-growing areas, he added.

Ignacio Morales-Castilla, lead author of the new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, said the research showed there was still an opportunity to adapt viticulture and agriculture to climate pressures.

"But we need to be aware that the more warming there is, the less chances we have to adapt," said Morales-Castilla, from Spain's University of Alcala.

Diversifying into different grape varieties can help, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation - but once warming tops 2C, it becomes a less effective strategy the hotter the climate gets. The world has already warmed by just over 1C.

In addition, vineyards must overcome regulatory, financial and cultural hurdles to switch varieties, warned the study.

"There is attachment of some growers to given varieties that were grown (there) for centuries... and shifting or abandoning that variety is not going to be easy," said Morales-Castilla.

He said he hoped many more local varieties suitable for growing in hotter temperatures could be identified, as the study only looked at 11 varieties from a global total of about 1,100.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Climate ChangeAgriculture, Food and BeverageFuture of the Environment
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Green job vacancies are on the rise – but workers with green skills are in short supply

Andrea Willige

February 29, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum