The Napa Valley , about an hour from San Francisco, is one of the major wine regions of the world and a claim for more than 5 million tourists a year, but if the fears of some scientists, more than 300 wineries are confirmed could have the hours counted. According to a study by the University of Southern Oregon, in the northwestern United States, climate change is radically altering the ripening cycles of grapes in 27 of the world’s major wine-producing regions, including Napa and southern Europe. .
In Napa, for example, the minimum temperature has risen five degrees in the last 75 years and this has affected the vineyards, says the study, published in the journal ‘Proceedings’ of the US National Academy of Sciences and one of the last made on the matter. Those responsible for the research do not rule out that the area will be too warm in the future to produce good wines and the same could happen with other regions today known worldwide for their wines. “If you are in a warm region such as southern Europe or some areas of Australia, global warming could mean that the area is not suitable for producing quality wine in the future”,Gregory Jones, a professor of climatology at the University of Southern Oregon and one of the authors of the analysis, told EFE. “Regions neither too hot nor too cold will have a difficult time with some grape varieties and will have to adapt in some way,” he added.
The problem is that the heat alters the ripening process of the grapes , causing them to acquire the optimum alcoholic degree before they fully ripen and manifest all their characteristics. In other words, the wine produced by these grapes has more alcohol but its quality is lower. The acidity is also lower, making it easier for you to get contaminated with microbes. To this must be added that the rise in temperatures benefits the pests that affect the vineyards and that normally die in the cold.
Among the solutions proposed by the experts is cloningto get more resistant strains or simply accept the situation and move the crops to cooler areas as temperatures rise. This last option will make climate change also have its winners, at least in wine terms. “If you’re in a cold region like Germany, a little more heat is beneficial because it makes ripening more consistent and even allows you to grow new varieties,” Jones said. German regions such as those near the Rhine or Moselle rivers have produced the best wines in their history this decade thanks to rising temperatures. In Great Britain, where wine production had been abandoned since the end of global warming in the Middle Ages, there are now some 400 wineries in Wales and England. In U.S.A, The great beneficiaries will be producers in the northeast and northwest of the country, regions such as Oregon, Washington or upstate New York where excess humidity prevents today from achieving California quality wines. In that State, global warming threatens a sector that moves more than 2,900 million dollars annually.
In the Napa Valley, this summer’s low temperatures had blown hopes of a year of exceptional quality, but early harvest figures also speak of a huge production that will push grape prices further down. . The recession has led grape prices to fall by 30% this year in the US and this is compounded by the fact that demand for wine, especially high-quality wines, has plummeted.