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No more chardonnay or sauvignon blanc! Warming temperatures mean wine lovers will have to get used to less common plonk such as grenache and monastrell

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Wine lovers have been served disappointing news ahead of summer as they’re warned they may have to say goodbye to chardonnay and sauvignon blanc and hello to less common plonk such as grenache and monastrell.

With global temperatures on the rise, wine drinkers will have to settle for rarer grape varieties that can cope with hotter and drier environments, according to experts.

Wine is naturally adapted to warm and dry climates because of its origins in the Mediterranean region, with the most popular grapes heavily reliant on irrigation – the practice of applying controlled amounts of water to land to help grow plants.

But the process faces its own challenges as climate change makes water scarcer. 

Wine has already become more alcoholic and has a sweeter taste, with vineyards harvesting almost three weeks earlier than they did just four decades ago.

Wine lovers may have to settle for lesser-known grapes as rising temperatures could render 70 per cent of of wine-growing regions across the planet unsuitable for grape growing

Wine lovers may have to settle for lesser-known grapes as rising temperatures could render 70 per cent of of wine-growing regions across the planet unsuitable for grape growing

Seasonal workers picks bunches of grapes during the grape harvest at a vineyard in the area known as Rioja Alavesa, in the village of Laguardia, Basque Country, northern Spain

Seasonal workers picks bunches of grapes during the grape harvest at a vineyard in the area known as Rioja Alavesa, in the village of Laguardia, Basque Country, northern Spain 

Vineyard in the Chianti Region of Tuscany, Italy

Vineyard in the Chianti Region of Tuscany, Italy

Hotter growing-season temperatures are making it harder for growers to achieve balance in the fruit—and, therefore, in the finished wine.  

But global warming is set to generate severe droughts and heatwaves that could leave a staggering 70 per cent of wine-growing regions across the planet unsuitable – if global temperatures rise by more than 2C.

Shocking figures show that the world is currently heading towards an almost 3C rise.

Around nine out of 10 vineyards that produce the grapes that make up favourites such as Spanish merlots and Italian sauvignon blancs could soon be forced to shut up shop.

Vineyards located in and around coastal and low-lying areas of Spain, Italy, Greece and southern California could be rendered unsuitable for growing, according to research published in The Times.

And although this means wine drinkers may have to settle for a lesser-known, drought-resistant grapes, such monastrell and grenache, it means the booze will continue to flow. 

Adaptations to which types of grapes are grown and the process of how they are cultivated are being discussed in vineyards across the planet in an effort to tackle the issue.

At its most extreme, ‘which type of grapes are grown’ can mean a complete change of grape variety. 

‘The market needs to accept drinking other varieties than they’re used to,’ said Cornelis van Leeuwen, of the viticulture college Bordeaux Sciences Agro.

‘Most of the international varieties, like sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, merlot, they’re really not adapted to a warmer, drier climate’.

Bordeaux sanctioned the use of six new varieties in its vineyards two years ago.

More than half of vineyards across the world are planted with 12 varieties of grape – but luckily for wine lovers, there are thousands more available. 

Beyond grape varieties, growers can sometimes ‘create coolness’ by planting seeds on differently oriented slopes that get less or ‘cooler’ sun/more wind, or at higher altitudes. 

Some growers also believe they can mitigate the effects of climate change by using different clones of their existing grape varieties—versions that ripen later or more reluctantly.

A study, published in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, explored just how climate change will impact wine-growing on a global scale.

It revealed that if temperatures are held to 2C, around 25 per cent of today’s wine growing regions could benefit.

Another quarter would maintain their suitability.

But anything beyond 2C would lead to the catastrophic result of 70 per cent of the world’s vineyards being unable to grow the most well-known and loved wine grapes.

Statistics from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show a world that is already more than 1°C warmer than before the industrial revolution. 

Eight of the ten warmest years on record have occurred in the last decade. 

In the last two years, there have been record temperatures from Canada to Sicily, wildfires in Australia, Portugal, Greece, and California, and floods in Australia and Germany.

New growing regions are also set to open in the UK, as the climate is becomes more suitable for growing.

Sussex and Kent are already leading the way with their vastly popular Rathfinny and Denbies estates that boast chalk soils and sloped landscapes, perfect for grape growing.



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