How will climate change affect grapevines?

Viticulture will be affected by an increase in UVB radiation, temperature and the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) as well as changes to the current patterns of precipitation. 
 It is estimated that average temperatures will rise by 2.9ºC by the end of the century and by as much as 6ºC in the worst-case scenario. There will be less rain, particularly in the summer months and evaporation rates in plants will rise. This coupled with a decrease in the occurrence of ground frosts will lead to more pests in terms of both occurrence and variety.  Winters will be milder and summers warmer with potentially extreme heat waves.  Torrential and unseasonal rainfall will also see an increase leading to more flooding.
Grape harvests will be brought forward.  Although, perhaps we’ll see less botrytis and mildew given the higher temperatures and lack of humidity.
As solar radiation increases so too will photosynthesis and plants will grow more rapidly causing changes in their phenology.  The same thing will happen that is already occurring in many grape harvests, as I mentioned on Wednesday.  The vines will reach their physiological maturity but this will not be accompanied by the maturity of the phenols and grape skins, which is ideally what we want for that perfect end balance.
 The traditionally privileged vineyard regions could change with a move to more northerly latitudes.  Indeed, as each decade passes the northerly limits of vine cultivation (currently 50º north) are moving even further north at a rate of 20 km per decade, or roughly 2 km per year.
 As a matter of fact, vines are already being planted in the south of England with a view to producing sparkling wine.
Translated by Lesley Armstrong.


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