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Climate change could make China top wine producer by 2050

  • Staff Reporter
  • 2014-08-18
  • 15:10 (GMT+8)
A Chinese winemaker Geng Xuegang tastes wine he has aged in casks in Beijing, July 10. (File photo/Xinhua)

A Chinese winemaker Geng Xuegang tastes wine he has aged in casks in Beijing, July 10. (File photo/Xinhua)

Warmer temperatures caused by climate change may mean that the south of France will no longer be able to produce high-quality wine in the future, which may present new wine-producing opportunities for northern Europe and China in the future, reports Shanghai-based China Business News.

A report published in 2005 by Professor Gregory Jones and his coworkers compared the temperatures at 27 wine-producing regions during grape-growing seasons over 50 years and concluded that the south of France will likely be unsuitable for producing wine by 2050. Li Yangang, one of ten Chinese nationals who has received a Level 4 certificate from the world renowned wine education institute WSET, said the region may still be able to produce wine but it would be of a lower quality

The future of major wine producers in Spain, Italy, the United States and Australia has been threatened by climate change. Jones' research team predicted that between 2000 and 2049, the average temperature during grape's growing system will increase 2.04°C, which would be devastating for wine producers who will have a hard time finding enough water for their vineyards.

Mild temperatures and a long growing season–around 100 to 130 days–are required to produce high-quality grapes. Surging temperatures would make grapes mature rapidly, increasing their sugar levels but not the other chemicals such as acid and phenols. Lower temperatures common in Germany and northern Europe would produce grapes with higher acidity, but an insufficient sugar level.

A Chinese businessperson who runs a wine business in France said due to climate change and a gloomy economic outlook, many vineyards in Bordeaux have been put on the market. The region suffered from poor weather last year, which reduced its total wine output by nearly 20%.

Li said the changing climate would not seriously affect southwestern France where wine is cheaper but would affect Burgundy and Bordeaux, where high-quality wines are produced. Burgundy may not be able to grow grapes for Pinot Noir in a warmer climate, for example.

Colder regions such as northern France, Germany, Canada and northern Europe may be able to produce high-quality wine as the climate gradually shifts. In less than a generation, wine produced in the UK has gone from a joke to a good investment, according to London-based Financial Times. The growing season in the region has moved forward and helped England enjoy good harvests of grapes in recent years.

During a conference on climate change and wine held in Barcelona, Australian viticulturist Richard Smarts said China will likely be the ideal country to produce grapes in 30 years and may produce the world's highest-quality wine, according to the BBC.

Multiple wine experts have said that weather is not the problem for China but its grape output is. The amount of grapes Chinese farmers produce per hectare is far higher than their European counterparts. Even though ideal land plots could be found in Hebei and Shandong province, the scale of output is considered more important to quality.

Li said China is less experienced at growing grapes than Europe given its shorter history of growing the fruit. Weather would not be a problem in a vast country like China given the diverse range of weather conditions. Ningxia and Xinjiang have produced some good wine but the Chinese wine industry as a whole still has a long way to go.

 

References:

Li Yangang  曆彥剛

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