Climate change may finally be affecting something American’s hold dear to their heart—the wine industry! In a recent interview with National Public Radio, Lee Hannah, a senior fellow in climate change biology with Conservation International discusses how global warming may play havoc with traditional wine-growing regions. An exceptional wine region enjoys cool summers and rainy winters, but as the earth’s average temperature rises, the areas once renowned for developing delicious and abundant wine grapes may soon lose their status. Colder zones, such as Denmark, which were once unable to produce any quantity of wine grapes are emerging with must-try vintages.
As residents of San Luis Obispo County well know, a booming new wine industry may bring many positives, but the good things don’t come without environmental impact. A shift in grape-growing regions will also mean a shift in overall agriculture and a stress on water resources. When water is tapped for the wine industry it not only affects the water usage of people, but of the wildlife and plant life in the region. Expanding vineyards requires careful planning and should include conservation efforts.
Before you pop that bottle of bubbly this New Year’s Eve, take a good look at the label. If it comes from an unusual place—What, they grow wine grapes in Tasmania?—it may be more than great marketing that put that particular bottle in your hand. Global warming is changing the wine industry, and that’s not something anyone wants to celebrate.