Wine and Climate Change by Ken Eckersley

Introduction to an article published by the Baw Baw Sustainability Network

Climate Change is happening throughout the world and one of the consequences is changing the wines that we all enjoy. There will not be an impact on many alcoholic beverages, like beer and spirits, because they are essentially manufactured. Natural beverages sourced directly from fruits, like grapes, that grow, ripen and reflect the season are certainly influenced.

Fruits are ripening quicker and are sweeter. Vintage (grape picking) is now 3-4 weeks earlier that 40 years ago. Paradoxically the frost damage risk in Spring is now longer by 3-4 weeks because the air is drier and there are more clear night skies.

Climate change means that everything is on average getting warmer. Over my lifetime alone temperatures have risen an average of 2 degrees. I can remember as a boy in Sydney the newspaper’s front pages in large letters shouting “40 Degrees!!”. Today, east coast temperatures often exceed 40 degrees and the novelty has long passed.

All would be well if we only drank sweet wines and ports, like our 19th century forbears, as they require grapes with high sugar. However, the most popular wine styles today are dry reds and whites, commonly consumed with food at the table. In the past these wines were between 11 to 13.5% alcohol.

A walk through your local bottle shop looking at red wine labels will show a range of alcohol levels, from 13 to 17%, with most 15-16%. A definite shift towards port styles (18 to 20%). The question is does it matter? The wines will be different in unexpected ways…

The full article is here.

The author is the proprietor of the Nicholson River Winery