Speaking at this year’s Cool Climate Wine Symposium in Brighton, England, Professor Gregory Jones from the Department of Environmental Studies highlighted a number of nations which could become more important players in the wine world if temperatures continue to rise and as viticulture requirements for cooler climates becomes better understood.
“Most of these cool climate regions are already producing wine currently but those industries are quite small,” he said. “Cool climate regions have relatively short growing seasons and some have bigger drops in temperature than others, which can cause problems. And we also need to stress the effects of day length, which can vary between different cool climate wine producing regions by three hours a day.
“But we know more about how to produce wine in these conditions now. For example, some areas might be better using winter tolerant varieties. Gamay can take most of the frost and Pinotage is also good. Chardonnay is also pretty hardy but Syrah is not so good as it is very sensitive.
Jones identified regions of the world which have good conditions for wine growing and which may become more relevant as temperatures increase globally.
“The higher elevations of Australia are cooler while parts of New Zealand and southern Argentina and Chile could all start to move into this optimal cool climate band of temperatures.”
Professor Dr Hans Schulz, who co-hosted the discussion on emerging cool climate regions, added: “There are also emerging sites in Europe such as Poland, which has gained the rights for the larger plantation of vineyards, so we are likely to see more activity from this region. And there are even vineyards now in Sweden and Denmark, although these are extreme latitudes.”
Jones noted that for many of these nations it might be a question of finding their niche in the wine world. “England has found a niche with sparkling wine but it may be harder for other countries to find their own niche.”
Also speaking about English wine, he added: “There is a low average yield in England and that is the challenge. Keeping quality while developing the commercial success. But if we look at Germany before World War One it had yields much lower than England today. Its success can be attributed more to viticulture management and improvements in adapting to the cool climate rather than changes in the temperature; and this helped Germany increase its yields significantly.”