Winners and Losers of Climate Change in The Wine World

With so much destruction and uncertainty involved with climate change, how can there be any winners in this discussion? Ironically, where some of the world’s most celebrated wine regions such as France, Italy, and California are becoming less ideal for grape-growing, other regions are emerging as great wine growing destinations.

Who Are the Winners?

If I told you that China, England, and Tasmania may be top wine producing areas in the near future would you think I am crazy? In general, the world is getting hotter, however, for some cooler climate growing regions this trend is opening up new doors. Here is a list of a few of the many emerging wine regions:

China

China has embarked on a multibillion-dollar project to develop the Ningxia desert (about 500 miles west of Beijing) into one of the highest producing wine regions in the world. There are over 80,000 acres of vineyards presently and this number is expected to more than double by 2020.

New York

The Finger Lakes, Hudson River Valley, and Long Island are the three regions in New York state that are making a name for themselves as emerging grape growing destinations. Although New York doesn’t have the bountiful California sun, this cooler climate region has made a name for itself with some fantastic white wines such as Riesling, Pinot blanc, and Chardonnay. Impressively there are some quality Cabernet Franc and Merlots on the market.

Tasmania

With a climate not so dissimilar to Champagne – warm summers and moderate winters provide a grape growing destination that is becoming well known for elegant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Pay close attention specifically to the eastern coast of this region both presently and in the future.

England

Is England the next sparking wine region to challenge Champagne? Sparkling wines coming from this region are winning gold medals against reputable French competition and land prices are close to those in Champagne. The cool and damp climate of England has many similarities to that of Champagne France.  

Who are the Losers?

Grape-growing regions in warm and hotter climates are suffering the most from climate change as a rule of thumb. California is the primary example. However, France – a cooler climate is suffering from the volatility of weather patterns in other forms.

Old World wines are going to suffer considerably from climate change and we will see famed regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rioja, and Tuscany amongst many more struggles to deal with these changes. This is partially to do with the actual climate changing but also due to to the importance of tradition and existing policy surrounding grape growing and production. For example, in Champagne, Burgundy, and Chianti you can only use certain grapes in order to label those wines with those specific denominations. Many old world producers are tied to tradition and terroir. It will be interesting to see how young producers and future generations react to the changing climate and how traditions may change.

New World wines tend to gravitate towards single vineyards with one grape variety used. Most notably would be Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay in California. In New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc has become the most popularly produced grape. Moving to South America, it is hard to mention Argentina without ranting about bold and juicy Malbecs. Many of these regions in the New World are warm-weather climates and it will be difficult to maintain the same style of production without having extremely imbalanced wines. Millennials are the most likely to try new wines and Generation X are spending more on wine than Baby Boomers. What does this mean? The future of wine buying is being driven by adventurous tasters and consumers in search of quality products.

Why Should You Care?

Do you like wine? Of course, you do – it’s the best thing ever and you wouldn’t be here reading this if you didn’t.

Keep in mind that many of the world’s greatest wine-producing regions are losing out due to these changes and numerous other global regions are emerging as new wine destinations.

As a buyer and consumer of wine, I ask you to pay attention to where the product comes from and to be willing to adapt. Coca-Cola will likely taste the same forever. It’s not an agricultural product. Wine is. By all means, pay homage to the traditional methods and producers that have wowed the world for centuries. And open your mind, and palate, to newer regions that are proving to be quality producers.

What do you think about this topic? What are your favorite classic wines of the world and where are your new favorite wines coming from?

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