A new study from a Unviersity of Melbourne PhD student has found that global warming will dramatically impact growing conditions, grape quality and harvest times in Australian vineyards.
According to Leanne Webb, of Melbourne University’s Faculty of Land and Food Resources, Australia’s Riverina grape-growing region will become unsustainable if adaptive measures are not taken.
Webb also predicts that by 2030 global warming will negatively impact grape quality, with coastal regions like Coonawarra suffering a drop of between 1 and 4%, Yarra Valley between 4 and 10% and the Riverina experiencing a dramatic reduction of between four and 52%.
Wine management costs may also be increased because of the added expense of managing grapevine canopies.
Climate change will also reduce Australia’s ability to produce cool-climate wines such as Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, although Webb found Chardonnay and Shiraz to be “quite durable” varietals, so their quality will be less
affected by warming climate.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for Australian growers, according to Webb.
“The one thing about the Australian wine industry is we do not have restrictions on what we are allowed to plant in each region like they have in France and Italy. So we do have more potential to adapt to increasing global
temperatures than in those European countries,” Webb told Wine Enthusiast.
Vineyards can mitigate the negative effects of global warming by planting warm-climate varietals, moving to cooler regions and planting at higher altitudes.
“Unless we suffer catastrophic climate change, I think Australian vineyards will manage, and they will adapt,” says Webb.
Emmet Cole is a writer and journalist from Ireland currently based in Austin, Texas.
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