Climate Change Will Shift Wine Production to New Regions, Threaten Napa Valley, Tuscany: Study

  • Michael Briggs , Design & Trend Staff Writer
  • Apr, 08, 2013, 04:06 PM

A worker is shown at a Napa Valley vineyard.
A worker is shown at a Napa Valley vineyard.

They say wine gets better with age, but the regions we typically associate with its production could be in for a major shakeup due to climate change over the next few decades, according to a new study.

Researchers are predicting a two-thirds decline in production in the Bordeaux and Rhone regions in France, Tuscany, Italy and Napa Valley in California and Chile by 2050, due to global warming that will make it more difficult to grow grapes. Instead, regions once considered inhospitable to grape production will take over—including northern Europe (yes, Britain too), the US North West and central China.

"The fact is that climate change will lead to a huge shakeup in the geographic distribution of wine production," Lee Hannah, author of the study, said.

Colder winters and dry, hotter summers will be difficult to overcome in wine country, but not completely impossible.

"It will be harder and harder to grow those varieties that are currently growing in places in Europe," Hannah said. "It doesn't necessarily mean that [they] can't be grown there, but it will require irrigation and special inputs to make it work, and that will make it more and more expensive."

The latest findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences took researchers by surprise.

"We expected to see significant shifts, but we didn't expect to see shifts like these," Hannah said. 

17 different climate models were used gauge the effects on nine major wine-producing areas. The most drastic decline was expected in Europe, where the scientists found a 85% decrease in production in Bordeaux, Rhone and Tuscany. Wine growing areas of Australia, with a 74% drop, and California, with a 70% fall, also look to be facing major changes.

Zinfandel grapes grow in a Napa Valley, California vineyard.
Zinfandel grapes grow in a Napa Valley, California vineyard.


The change in production could have much larger reaching effects than bottle labels.

"Wine is going to be on the move in the future as will wildlife," Rebecca Shaw, a scientist for the Environmental Defence Fund and an author of the paper, said. "This adaptation has the potential to threaten the survival of wildlife." 

© 2015 Design & Trend All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


Latest Stories

Back to School Shopping Guide

DESIGN Sep, 02, 2016, 03:17 PM

Back To School Shopping Guide

Getty Images

DESIGN Sep, 02, 2016, 01:58 PM

Harry Styles Purchases New LA Pad