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Climate Change Set to Affect Vineyards by 2050

Apr 09, 2013 08:12 PM EDT

Vast portions of potential wine-producing country are expected to disappear over the next few decades as climate change bites, and winemakers may need to head for higher, cooler ground.

According to new research published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 25 to 73 percent of land that could be used for vineyards will be no longer be available by 2050.

The study forecasts sharp declines in wine production from Bordeaux and Rhone regions in France, Tuscany in Italy and Napa Valley in California and Chile by 2050, as a warming climate makes it harder to grow grapes in traditional wine country.

The study also notes that there will be a big push into areas once considered unsuitable. That could mean more grape varieties from northern Europe, including Britain, the US north-west and the hills of central China.

"The fact is that climate change will lead to a huge shakeup in the geographic distribution of wine production," said Lee Hannah, a senior scientist at Conservation International and an author of the study.

''Global changes in suitability for wine production caused by climate change may result in substantial economic and conservation consequences,'' said the study, Climate change, wine, and conservation.

''Redistribution in wine production may occur within continents, moving from declining traditional wine-growing regions to areas of novel suitability, as well as from the Southern Hemisphere to large newly suitable areas in the Northern Hemisphere.''

The study looked at 17 global climate models to estimate temperature and moisture changes around the globe over the next four decades. Grapes are sensitive to minute changes in air temperature, water level and soil composition, so many growers might have to change the type of wine they produce, the study said.

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