Wine & Brews

Climate Change Effects on Wine and Spirits

Normally this little column addresses fun stuff like parties, alcohol trends, wine, and such. This month, however, I want to draw attention to the effects of wildfires and climate change upon the spirits industry as a whole, here in the US, Europe, and presently, Australia.

I would hope that many reading this article are aware of the massive wildfires that are occurring in Australia. According to Wine Spectator, “30% of the Adelaide Hills wine region, home to 90 different labels, have been damaged. As to what extent the fires have damaged the grapes has yet to be determined.”

In 2019, wine makers were very fortunate to have already harvested the grapes before the wildfires started in the Napa and Sonoma regions of California. However, the vintners had to evacuate during the process of wine making, a highly monitored and meticulous process. In 2017 and 2018 in California, unfortunately the fires started before harvest, resulting in significant damage, not only structurally but also to the grapes themselves due to smoke and fire.

Extreme weather, namely high heat in Europe, especially France, has led to some incredible years of production. Sometimes extreme heat can be good for the grapes as it stresses the vines. But year after year of such stress can, and will, eventually lead to the death of the vine. Even the drought in Northern Mexico has affected the growing wine industry located in that region.

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