Climate change is upon us, whether you like it or not, whether you believe in it or not. We hear a lot about polar bears, melting glaciers and disappearing islands in the Pacific Ocean. Yet climate change will certainly be felt almost everywhere and affect almost everyone. Considering that many grape varieties are very climate sensitive, wine is definitely an area that will undergo major changes in the future.
Although scientists have predicted a difficult future for wine, not all news is bad. Recent news concerning climate change and wine seems to be positive.
The most impressive story is that of a scientific breakthrough concerning the DNA of Cabernet Sauvignon. UC Davis has been working on mapping the genome of the grape variety and recently released the first draft of it. The university told Decanter that the goal is to understand the genetic makeup of wine grape varieties. This information would help guide breeding efforts to generate new varieties that are more resistant to worsening climatic conditions. The Californian university’s research is partly funded by Californian winemakers who worry about drought.
The complete, annotated genome sequencing for Cabernet Sauvignon will take two more years to complete. However, when this is done, the research should make decoding other varieties in the future quicker and more cost effective. Which in turn, would make breeding stronger varieties easier as well.
Speaking of changing climatic conditions, a new study projects that the UK will be a major wine producer by 2100 due to rising temperatures. Decanter reports that a study was commissioned by retailer and merchant Laithwaite’s. The report claims that an expected rise in temperature of more than 2 degrees Celsius, plus around 5% more rain, will mean that the UK is going to be well placed to produce a great variety of wine styles.
A Scottish Pinot Grigio or a Malbec from London? According to the study, Britain would become a big player on the global winemaking scene by the end of the 21st century. Not everyone agrees, however. Some studies show that Europe, including the UK, would get colder instead of warmer because of changing ocean currents. Others say that the effect is misinterpreted and exaggerated, especially because a higher chance of extreme weather would cause problems in vineyards.
Climate change is a scary phenomenon. Nonetheless, humans are inventive species, capable of finding clever solutions. And if not that, at least capable of giving a positive spin to things. Anyhow, we’re sure that wine will stick around for a long time.