Today, the climate change is not an abstract concept or the conclusion of a mathematical model of a scientific research. It is an existing phenomenon with the consequences now being apparent, creating significant new challenges for the European Wine Industry. Europe is the largest wine producer on the planet, holding over 65% of the world production. However, it is also one of the areas that will experience the effects of climate change more intensely.
Changes in the vineyard culture
The climate change is expected to lead to major “upheavals” in the geographical distribution of vine cultivation. Traditional areas such as Greece, Italy, Spain and France, due to rising temperatures will become inhospitable in the long run. Countries in the northern hemisphere such as England, Denmark, etc. in the future may become the center of viticulture.
Changes in the quality characteristics of the wine produced
According to scientists, the temperature in Europe is expected to rise by 3-5 degrees Celsius in the next 50 years. This change can lead to an increase in humidity, pests and diseases leading to shorter winter periods and early harvests.
Climatic parameters that affect viticulture
• The temperature. The ripening rate of the grapes changes immediately.
• The humidity
• The solar radiation
The prolonged high temperature along with the simultaneous lack of water will change the components of the grapes that affect the color, aroma and concentration of acids and sugars. This change will have a direct effect on the wine produced from these fruits. Emblematic wineries that have been identified with the cultivation of specific varieties in famous areas and the production of corresponding wine labels, will be called upon to make important decisions in the near future.
New business opportunities
Every crisis produces an opportunity. In the case of the wine industry this opportunity may be twofold. More specifically, the purchase of rare and special wine bottles, we would say “elite”, is a significant financial investment as the value of these products increases every year. According to economic analysis, the market for “fine” wines with a long-term investment purpose is growing by 11%, while traditional investment products such as gold are only growing by 4%.
The “response” to climate change
One response to climate change for producers may be to plant varieties that are better adapted to hot climates and arid conditions. In the case of winemakers, the different “management” of the raw material, e.g. a change in the residence times of the juice with the marcs may be a solution.
In general, however, new, less polluting cultivation practices should be implemented while managing carbon dioxide released by alcoholic fermentation.
Finally, for all businesses it is imperative to use packaging materials with as little environmental footprint as possible.
Author: Angelos Th. Zamanis
Director of Domaine Agrovision