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Vanden Heuvel: Climate Change Will Transform What’s in Your Wine Glass

Justine Vanden Heuvel

Justine Vanden Heuvel

[Huffington Post 2016-04-20]:

After the publication of a recent study about the impact of climate change on French wine, several articles misrepresented the study, resulting in misleading headlines such as An Upside to Climate Change? Better French Wine, French Wine May Be Improving Due To Climate Change, and Climate Change Giving The World Better French Wine. While the stories implied that any benefit of climate change on French wine would be short-term, they failed to press on a key point: Climate change will transform what’s in your wine glass and continue to do so as long as it remains unchecked.

Here in the U.S., the assessment of the future of the wine industry is pretty grim: the land area capable of producing premium wines could decrease by as much as 81 percent by the end of this century. The major impact of climate change on wine grape production is through increasing temperature; as the growth of grapevines is mostly dictated by temperature, climate change has been resulting in earlier bloom and harvest dates, with most major wine regions being impacted.

Major wine-growing regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the Napa Valley have at least a few strategies available to them. One is that they can maintain the status quo by growing the same grape varieties that they grow now. As temperature increases, sugar accumulation in the grape increases, resulting in a higher alcohol wine. Acidity of the grapes decreases, color can be reduced, and compounds that are responsible for the typical aroma of some wines can decrease. Will consumers adapt to these changing styles? It’s difficult to say.


  1. Thank you! I heard this report on NPR and thought that they had completely missed the point. The fact that harvest dates had been consistent for some 300 plus years until the mid-20th century was quite telling and yet the reports seemed to gloss over it. If you want more information about Climate Smart Farming – check out Cornell’s Institute for Climate Change and Agriculture website.

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