Europe’s wine industry faces climate change crisis

FRANK RUMPENHORST

The sun shining through ripe grapes at Frankfurt's only vineyard, the Lohrberg in Frankfurt Main, Germany, 25 September 2016.

Europe’s wine industry faces climate change crisis


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In France, Italy, Germany, wine producers are faced with the prospect of a disastrous wine harvest, NBC reports.

Climate change is affecting an industry with traditions that go back thousands of years. Not only have winemakers seen harvest time pushed forward due to heat, shortening the ripening season, but are faced with extreme weather conditions all year around.

This year, many of Europe’s wine-producing regions experienced winter frost, a cold spring, a long and exceedingly hot summer, and sporadic hailstorms. Each of these phenomena could be damaging. In combination, they have proved disastrous.

It is hard to overstate the toll on the industry.

France expects the worst vine harvest since the Second World War, with a projected 18% drop in production. According to the biggest Italian winemakers association, Italy expects a loss of at least 25% of production, which in some regions will reach 60%. Certain producers in Germany’s Gundersheim region expect losses up to 50% of production.

Winemakers are expecting some of the losses in quantity to be offset by gains in quality. That is more true of wines that develop in specific microclimates, combining careful irrigation, and grown on clay at low altitudes. What is certain is that European wine is likely to be more expensive this year, but the big worry is the future of the industry in a changing environment.

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