What are the options?
In the previous Step, we outlined options for increasing the resilience of the wine industry, but what would work for one vineyard may not work for the next. In the following Steps, you’ll examine three different approaches for adapting viticulture in the future.
Flexibility: On the Camel Valley vineyard in Cornwall (UK), conditions for making sparkling wines have been improving over the recent years. This vineyard aims at making the best possible wine from the grapes it gets.
Predicting: A project called Copernicus Climate Change Service has been set up to model how crops might cope with future climate scenarios, to help farmers make informed decisions today.
Conservation: By applying a number of methods and technologies, vine farmers can try to conserve the flavour of the wine. In some regions however, this might mean changing to grow different grape varieties, such as in Bordeaux (Bloomberg.com).
As with any agricultural sector, customer preferences drive the market. In one economic experiment, participants were invited to taste and value two Bordeaux wines: one with a normal alcohol content and flavour, and one with a high alcohol content and aromas that emerge in the warmer vintages (spice and ‘cooked fruits’).
Although customers were prepared to pay more money for the latter after a single degustation, their preference changed when they had to consume the same wines on several occasions. When consumed more frequently, the price people were prepared to pay for the high-alcohol wine decreased, whilst remaining stable for the wine with regular alcohol content. This indicates that people are still happy to drink wine with a flavour and composition that has been affected by climate change, but in the long run, they prefer less alcoholic wines. This example shows that climate change will not only have an immediate effect on yield and quality of a wine, it will also have an affect on the economics of that product.
References and further reading:
Huffington Post ‘Climate Change may change the global wine map’. (2015).
Geographical magazine ‘No more Merlot: France’s vineyards under threat’. (2016).
Fuentes Espinoza, A., Giraud-Héraud, E., Péres, S., Pons, A., & Tempere, S. D. (2016). Réchauffement climatique et acceptabilité des vins par les consommateurs. Revue des Oenologues, 158, janvier. Please note: this is a French reference.
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