MW Topic of the Week -- Climate Change!

So this week we are going to focus on climate change, which heavily effects Paper 1 (viticulture), sort of effects Paper 2 (winemaking), tangentially effects Paper 4 (business) and DEFINITELY effects Paper 5 (contemporary issues, for Stage 2 students only).

In recent years, this topic showed up in 2019, 2018, 2016, and in 2013.

2019: Does a changing climate place greater emphasis on terroir or on choice of grape variety?

2018: Referencing at least three wine regions, discuss how climate change is influencing grape growers’ viticultural practices.

2016: What practical options does a viticulturist have at his or her disposal to address long term changes in climate in an established vineyard?

2013: How important is climate change to the global wine market?

I would take extra care to make sure you know the financial impacts of corrective climate measures.

Looking forward to everyone's thoughts!


Sarah Bray

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  • I ask these questions to wine makers whenever I can. Old school-ers seem more inclined to make wines styled like the ones they made before it was warmer. Newer wine makers tend to roll with the times. I think an emphasis on terroir or varietal all depends on what side of the pond you are on. I feel like the Old World feels more obligated to lean on terroir, but as the climate changes the fruit will in variably show more.

    To the second part, Sancerre doesn't taste like Sancerre anymore (veggetal, jalapeno/green pepper).  The Sancerre I have tasted recently seems to show the wine makers going with a fruitier style. I was just in Santa Barbara and the wine makers that I talked to said they are trying to show more restraint and are picking earlier, though there are a number of wine makers that go for a fuller/frutier style. And we all know how southern England is getting warm enough to make sparkling in a champagne style.

    3rd part, a grower can always pick sooner in the season. They can also change to later ripening varietals. They can also choose to cellar longer before release to increase complexity and let the fruit soften. All three of these suggestions would cost any grower a LOT of money to do.

    And to the last question. there is no doubt that the single greatest threat to the global wine market is climate change. Climate change isn't just warmer weather. It is wind/ocean currents, droughts/flooding, over-farming, the impart of mass migrations, new fungus, resistant parasites etc.

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