Climate change threatens European wine production – EURACTIV.com
The EU is the world’s largest wine producer, but a recent publication revealed how threatened the sector is by climate change. EURACTIV France reports.
The harvest has already ended for many Beaujolais winegrowers. The early harvests also surprised producers in many other French regions.
Some winemakers were concerned about the unusually hot summer, but the high sugar content of this year’s grapes, which ensures a high level of alcohol in the finished product, is seen by many as a good thing.
But the authors of the book Threats to wine. The challenges of climate change, Valery Laramée de Tannenberg and Yves Leers fear that the celebrations will be short-lived.
“High alcohol levels never meant good wine. You have to take all the factors into account, ”warned Nicolas Joly, world-renowned organic winegrower from the Loire.
Very aware of changes in the natural environment, Nicolas Joly does not hide his concern about climate change. “There’s the heat, the lack of water, then the incredibly strong winds that change three times a day. It is very recent, and it is due to climate change, ”said the specialist.
For the vine, which has already survived hot periods between the 10th and the 14the, centuries before having to readjust to a cooler climate, it is the current speed of change that presents a particular threat. This is the conclusion of Valery Laramée de Tannenberg and Yves Leers.
The EU, world leader in wine
Producer of 17 billion liters of wine per year, or 45% of the world total, this is an important issue for the European Union, especially since production is resuming elsewhere. In just ten years, China has risen to second place in the world with 800 million hectares of red wine vineyards. In contrast, production in the EU is slowing, although France has managed to stay ahead, just ahead of Italy.
France’s most important wine region, Bordeaux, could get too hot to produce quality wine by the turn of the century. Climatologists predict that the average temperature will drop from 14 ° C to 18.8 ° C. Temperatures are rising faster in Aquitaine, of which Bordeaux is the capital, than in almost all other French regions.
Changing production areas
The picture is just as bleak in other parts of Europe. The best wine regions will change drastically, while local weather conditions may disappear altogether.
“By modifying the influence of the oceans on weather systems, global warming could completely alter localized weather systems and limit production in the Sauternes region. The same fate could happen to producers of Coteaux-du-Layon in the Loire, Jurançon in the Pyrenees, Tokay in Hungary and Slovakia and Trockenbeerenauslese in Germany and Austria ”, write the authors of the book.
But rising temperatures aren’t the only challenge. “Rather, it is the evolution of local and regional climates that risks affecting the development of vines and grapes,” explains Valéry Laramée.
To adapt to changes in temperature that have already occurred, an increase of around 1.5 ° C in France for example, there is not an overabundance of solutions. Vineyards will migrate to northern Europe, boosting the burgeoning wine industry in the UK, but posing a serious threat to large-scale industries in countries like Italy and Spain within just 20 years. .
Covering only 3.3% of cultivable land in France, the vineyard absorbs 15% of the country’s fertilizers. For Yves Leers, this is unreasonable, because “we can do whatever we want with chemicals, except fight against climate change”.
Chemicals also tend to deplete soil quality by depleting the natural flora, they do not prepare the vine for droughts, and their use even contributes to climate change, as many products are made from petroleum, and the use of chemicals. Nitrogen fertilizers emit greenhouse gases.