This Week in Research: Climate Change Wines

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He's not your typical climate scientist...
He’s not your typical climate scientist…

Sure, climate change is bad, and will put all of us on the Eastern Seaboard underwater soon enough — but it may also make for some exciting new wine regions!

Antonio Busalacchi, director of the UMD Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, has pigeonholed himself in an amazing way: he is both a climate change specialist and a wine expert. And through examining climate data, he’s identified ways that the world’s top wine-producing regions are having to adapt to a new environmental reality. For example, Champagne is traditionally produced in, well, Champagne, France. But some Champagne vineyards have been buying up land in southern England (mainly Sussex and Kent), because warming temperatures mean that region is newly hospitable to growing their style of grapes. Oh, and the land there is 30 times cheaper than it is in Champagne.

Busalacchi says that high altitude wineries will benefit, as well those surrounded by ocean or in higher latitudes. In other words: Oregon, Washington, New Zealand, the Rhine in Germany, and the Mendoza Province of Argentina. Things won’t go so well for traditional wine hotspots like Bordeaux, or places like South Africa and South Australia.

“Taken to an extreme, a wine from the Left Bank of Bordeaux may move away from the classic aromas of cedar cigar box, blackcurrants and green pepper and more toward the full, rich, spicy peppery profile of a Chateauneuf-du-Pape from the Southern Rhone,” Busalacchi theorizes. “Given that most grapevines produce fruit for 25 to 50 years, grape growers and wine makers must consider the long term when determining what to plant, where to plant, and how to manage their vineyards.” Mon dieu!

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