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Effects of climate change highlighted by new World Atlas of Wine

Published:  20 September, 2019

Climate change has transformed wine production globally, according to the latest edition of the World Atlas of Wine.

The most immediate impact is on the wine harvest, which is now on average up to four weeks earlier than it was 20 or 30 years ago in both the northern and southern hemisphere.

The Bordeaux harvest now often starts in August, whereas it traditionally began in late September or early October. At Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the Rhône, the harvest has been brought forward by a month since the 1940s.

A secondary effect of climate change is the spread of wine making into latitudes where it was formerly impractical. The book highlights the beneficial impact this has had on wine production in England, Germany and Canada, in particular, and notes the establishment of commercial wine industries in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.

Wine production methods have also been forced to adapt. Vines in established vineyards are being planted both at higher elevations and in wind-exposed areas to slow the ripening process. Likewise, many winemakers now need to protect their crops from over-exposure to the sun, whereas traditionally, they would have been attempting to give their vines as much sunshine as possible.

Plantings of grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon are increasingly being replaced with hardier varieties that are better adapted to high temperatures.

Other new features of the book include a focus on emerging wine regions such as the Lebanon, Israel, Uruguay and Brazil.

The eighth edition of The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson is published by Mitchell Beazley on 3 October.