Global warming and its impact on wine

23rd February, 2016 by db_staff

In 1989 Richard Smart‘s suggestion that Bordeaux might one day be better suited to Grenache than Cabernet was met with derision. Now, as the dangers of global warming are brought into stark relief, he considers the viticultural changes being produced today.


The first week of December 2015 saw the start of the Paris Climate Conference, hailed by some as the world’s last chance to save the planet from man- made atmospheric pollution from carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases. The predictions around climate change, including global warming, are dire, from rising sea levels to starvation, maybe leading to wars.

Among such possible social unrest, it almost seems trite to be concerned about the wine which future consumers might enjoy in 2050, or even 2100. However, many grape growers and wine producers are already noticing the early effects of warming and are planning adaptation strategies. Miguel Torres of Spain is investing in higher altitude, cooler vineyards, and Brown Brothers of Australia has invested in the southernmost state, Tasmania. I was one of the first viticulturists to bring climate change impacts on wine to wider notice, using the phrase “Wine will be the canary in the….

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6 Responses to “Global warming and its impact on wine”

  1. Craig Thornbury says:

    Bravo, Richard, bravo.

  2. Keith P says:

    I think most of the changes have been in culture of the vines, and also winemakers decisions to delay harvest for style purposes to fit the higher alcohol and flavor profiles favored by some wine critics.

  3. You will be pleased to know that our new PM Justin Trudeau has taken climate change very seriously and has made new commitments on Canada’s contribution. Yes we do have a dilemma being the source of significant oil for the world however as Canadians we need to balance that impact with significant contributions elsewhere. As ice wine producers we are ias concerned about climate change as other wine regions of the world both for the extremes in the production of ice wine but also in the extremes of damage our vineyards had extremely lower temperatures.

  4. honegger says:

    what about gamay in beaujolais area, betwen burgundy and northern rhone?

  5. honegger says:

    what about gamay, i, beaujolais area?

  6. Kent Benson says:

    The chart seems to be missing some critical labeling. The heading refers to “Current and projected temperature.” How is current defined? Over what period of time are the “average” temperature figures? The second and third columns are obviously not scientific projections, since they simply add 1.5 and 2.5 degrees to the “current” average. Should there be time frames assigned to these “projected” increases?

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