Jim Feldkamp has sampled wines from the richest valleys in Napa to the hills of Italy and beyond, developing a firm understanding of the wine production industry. Here, he explains how changes in global temperature may hinder the growth of certain grapes in vineyards around the world.
As Jim Feldkamp has learned in recent years, wine grapes are very sensitive to alterations in temperatures, especially in the major swings of the seasons. However, a new pressing problem has risen: climate change, with rising temperatures having a negative effect on vineyards everywhere.
“The impact of climate change affects ecosystems across the globe, affecting crop productions just as dramatically as it affects natural animal and plant life,” says Jim Feldkamp. “Recent studies have shown just how sensitive wine grapes are to rising temperatures, which can mean that wine-growing regions may shrink in the near future.”
The study Jim Feldkamp references was recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In it, the study states that if the global temperature rises by less than 4 degrees by the next century, the areas that are suitable for growing wine grapes are likely to shrink by more than 50%. If the rise in temperature reaches 7 degrees or more, than as much as 85% of those lands would no longer be sufficient to produce quality wines.
The study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was conducted by combining long-term records with global data on international vineyards and croplands. The different wines studied included cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, pinot noir, riesling, sauvignon blanc, and syrah.
The sensitivity of grapes to climate change has been recently compared to canaries in coal mines that once detected poisonous gases early on, which would kill unsuspecting miners. Many are calling the shifts in the environmental stability of vineyards an early warning sign of what may be in store for future crops everywhere.
Jim Feldkamp and other wine enthusiasts are now aware that warmer grape growing areas like Spain, Italy, and Australia will likely face the biggest changes with increased temperature. Because these areas produce some of the most beloved and well-known wines in the world, climate change can have a tremendous impact on the global supply.
Apart from affecting how many crops can be produced, climate change would also affect the quality of wine in many areas (typically excluding colder wine-growing regions like Germany and the U.S.). However, some specialists have proposed a novel plan to correct or at least balance out the impact of climate change.
“There’s hope that by switching up the varieties of grapes grown in these areas, we can reduce the total amount of loss,” says Jim Feldkamp. “In addition, the areas that aren’t as affected can begin growing foreign types of wine grapes to compensate. Although wines won’t come from the lands they’ve been known to in the past, this can hopefully save as many of the variety of wines we enjoy today.”