Bottoms Up

Vineyards may slurp up more freshwater or move into wildlife-rich regions to survive in a warming world, researchers say.

Wine grapes are picky: They need just the right temperature and amount of water to flourish. But many of the world’s wine-making hotspots will see vineyard-friendly area shrink substantially over the next four decades, according to a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Under one climate change scenario, area that can support wine grapes will drop by one-quarter in Chile, more than half in California’s wine region, and roughly three-quarters in parts of Europe and Australia.

Winemakers could move to higher elevations, where conditions will become more suitable for grapes. But the study authors worry that these new vineyards could encroach on natural habitat for wildlife. And if winemakers stay put, they might water or mist the grapes more frequently to cool them down, straining the region’s freshwater supply. In the meantime, “[a] growing and increasingly affluent global population will likely create an increasing demand for wine,” the researchers note. Roberta Kwok | 8 April 2013

Source: Hannah, L. et al. 2013. Climate change, wine, and conservation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences doi: 10.1073/pnas.1210127110.

Image © Shebeko |