The world is changing.
Of course, that statement is true no matter what era you live in. The world is constantly changing in so many different ways. But when it comes to wine production, the world may be changing in ways you didn’t expect.
The wine regions of today may not be the wine regions of tomorrow.
In other words, the countries that produce wines in today’s industry may not be able to make them in the future. What’s more, other countries may enter the fold, creating a more competitive wine industry.
Two words – climate change.
If you’ve kept up with the Xtrawine blog, you already know how much havoc climate change has wreaked in recent years. From unseasonal frosts to unexpected droughts, issues with the climate have a huge impact on winemakers. And if these issues are left unsolved, we may find that wine gets made in many different countries in the future.
What is Climate Change?
Climate change is the term used to describe the long-term shifts in weather patterns and temperatures that we’re seeing worldwide. Many use the term “global warming”, which is also accurate in terms of how the Earth’s overall environment is becoming warmer. However, warming in some areas may be accompanied by cooling in others, which is why climate change is now the preferred term.
A degree of climate change is natural. For example, the Earth has experienced an Ice Age and many other climate changes over billions of years. But in more recent years, climate change has escalated due to human activities, such as burning fossil fuels.
When we burn fossil fuels, like oil, we release greenhouse gases that act almost like a blanket that wraps around the planet. This blanket traps the sun’s heat, leading to increasing temperatures. Such gases include methane and, most famously, carbon dioxide.
How Does Climate Change Affect the Wine Industry?
Wine producers rely on consistency in the climate to grow their grapes. Moreover, some grapes thrive in certain climates, while others do better when it’s cooler or warmer.
The problem with climate change is twofold.
First, it creates long-term changes to a region’s climate. This can result in producers in that region no longer being able to grow the grapes they’re known for. Over the next few decades, we may see countries having to change their wine production because of climate change.
Second, climate change is the enemy of consistency. It can lead to strange weather patterns, such as the frosts that engulfed much of France in 2021. These weather variances cause various issues, such as early or later grape ripening and delays in harvesting. They can even destroy entire crops.
Coming back to the long-term effects of climate change, several countries may benefit from rising temperatures, at least in wine production. We may see the following become prominent wine producers in the coming years.
The United Kingdom
The English love wine. They’re particularly fond of varieties like Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Chardonnay, all of which require warmer temperatures to grow than are typically found in the United Kingdom.
At least, that used to be the case.
English winemakers can now produce still and sparkling wines using these grapes. And the consensus is that this ability will only grow over the next few decades.
However, it may take some time for the UK to become a winemaking powerhouse. Vineyards across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland only cover about 3,800 hectares. In contrast, France has 10 times the number of vineyards. Still, we may soon see British wines starting to fill a niche in the global wine industry.
The Scandinavian countries are likely the last you would think of when it comes to wine. They’re freezing cold for many months of the year, which is not conducive to growing grapes. There’s a reason why these countries typically host winter sporting events.
However, Scandinavian summers have become warmer, and intrepid winemakers from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway are experimenting with hybrid grapes. The likes of Solaris and Rondo can grow in the evolving Scandinavian climate. And the winemaker Klaus Peter Keller has successfully planted Riesling in Norway, achieving his first successful harvest in 2018.
Poland is an interesting case when it comes to wine. A millennia ago, the Polish had a strong wine culture, particularly amongst its nobles. That was because Poland’s climate suited viticulture during the Middle Ages. But as time went on, Poland’s winters became colder and could no longer produce the dry and crisp wines it was known for.
Now, we’re seeing the country’s climate change again.
Summers are getting warmer, though are staying cool enough for certain hybrid grape varieties. Again, Solaris and Rondo are growing in the country already. But it may not be long before we see the likes of Pinot Noir growing in Poland too.
Most famous for its unique beers, Belgium has never really been a player in the wine industry. But since 2006, we’ve seen remarkable growth in the country’s wine industry.
Belgium produced four times more wine in 2018 than it did in 2006. And while its wines are still fairly simple and lightweight, warming weather will open the door for cultivating more complex grapes.
Belgian producers are already making beautiful Chardonnay wines. But the emerging red wines may prove most exciting if climate change continues.
The Final Word
It’s difficult to say that there’s a positive element to climate change. And yet, several countries may be able to create thriving wine industries because of it. This assumes that climate change isn’t slowed down or stopped in the coming decades.
The Xtrawine team is certainly curious about these potential new players in the global wine industry and will explore their wines as and when they arrive. But for now, we’re happy to provide you with access to some amazing Italian wines and wines from many other countries.
I’m a passionate about good wine and good cooking.
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