Global warming will shift world’s wine-growing regions

Have a favorite local vineyard in Virginia or Maryland?  Make sure to get its wine while you can. A study released recently by Conservation International and Environmental Defense Fund found that the world’s wine-growing regions will shift as the planet heats up. While other studies have examined the impact of climate change on specific wine-growing regions, like California, this is the first one I’ve seen that provides global maps. 

Check out the map I pulled from Environmental Defense Fund’s Google Earth flyover video:

Map - Conservation International and EDF study - shifting wine growing regions

Why will the warming of the planet by a few degrees have such a dramatic impact? Wine grapes are incredibly delicate crops. Even small changes in temperature can mean the difference between a $100 Cabernet Sauvignon and cooking sherry. With ripening timelines shifting, some vintners in California have been forced to harvest their fruit in the middle of the night to get it when it’s cool. Warming can also bring more risk of bacterial diseases, like Pierce’s disease, to vineyards.

Athena Vineyards in Heathsville, VA participates in Climate Impacts Day in May 2012

Over the last 10-15 years, bud break has moved up about two weeks earlier for many local vineyards. As weather we used to consider strange or freakish becomes more common because of the changing climate, vintners will likely face frost after bud break more and more often. They may have to decide whether to spend precious resources to protect their crops from weird weather or risk losing them altogether.

Greenwood Vineyards in Vernon Hill, VA participates in Climate Impacts Day in May 2012

While the future is looking dim for our local vineyards, since wine grapes are so temperature-sensitive, there’s still hope for other local crops.  By taking action together, we can put Virginia, Maryland and DC on a path away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy.  Check out our Take Action page to see what you can do or sign up for an upcoming event.

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