Apparently, climate change has a bright side. French winemakers now benefit from early-ripening grapes, which means that their wines will get even better, a new research has found.
Earlier-than-expected harvests often yield highly rated wines. But, French vineyards needed a drought to create the best conditions for an early harvest. Scientists found, however, that these conditions could become more frequent due to climate change.
According to the study, which was published this week in Nature Climate Change, the rising temperatures triggered by climate change have benefited winemakers in the French regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy in an unexpected way. Early harvests meant better wines and a better business for everyone.
Scientists noted that summers have become so warm that even summer rains cannot prevent grapes from maturing earlier and develop tannins, acids, and sugars.
Benjamin Cook, co-author of the study and researcher at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, explained that early harvests are associated with tastier wines, but up to a point. Cook said that summers that are too hot may not always benefit winemakers.
For instance, in 2003, an extremely dry summer allowed grape growers to harvest fruits several weeks earlier than normal. In that summer, grapes could be harvested as early as mid-August in France, but the resulting wine was quite ‘middling,’ as Cook put it.
The researcher believs that it can get so warm that even with an early harvest the old rule of better wines is no longer valid.
On the other hand, past research had shown that climate change may compromise most of the global winemaking industry. A 2013 study found that climate change may make summers so hot that grape growers would need to relocate their vineyards to higher, cooler locations.
Lee Hannah, one of the authors of the 2013 study and climate scientist at University of California, noted that climate change’s impact on vineyards and wine production worldwide would differ from one region to another.
Hannah expects Europe to be less affected by the changing climate, but California could be one of the worst impacted areas. The scientist explained that rising temperatures in California have often been coupled with droughts, which rarely happens in Europe.
So, Napa and Sonoma counties could soon become too hot to produce the high-quality wines we were accustomed with, Hannah added.
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