Climate Change: How Is It Impacting Your Wine?

Climate change presents many concerns, including impacting the wine you drink. Learn how it is starting to affect wineries, and their crops and products.


A picture speaks a thousand words. If one were to see Spottswoode Winery, they might be amazed by the stunning gardens and vines – but something else we must pay attention to is . How is climate change impacting this otherwise stunning winery? Rain patterns without regularity, high temperatures, and the threat of fires – these are all factors resulting from climate change. 

Those maintaining Spottswoode Winery have had to discover different methods of maximizing water usage, experimenting with different grape varieties, and searching for land that isn’t too hot. This is all because of climate change. Surely you have heard of the concerns regarding climate change, but perhaps you never thought of how climate change could change the way you drink.   

Climate Change is Changing Things Up 

From 2012 to 2014, this aforementioned winery had approximately six days during which temperatures soared beyond 98.6 degrees from April to October. But in 2017, that number of days skyrocketed to 21. This can be detrimental to -making, because it impacts the maturation process, amongst other things. Apparently, there is only one opportunity each year to get things right when it comes to making wine in certain places. The pressure of climate change is changing things up in the sense that the vineyards have to be shaded and crops have to be protected from flooding and other environmental factors. It’s not just California facing threats because of climate change. Winemakers elsewhere have to discover new methods and norms to adapt to climate change. Climate change is truly changing things up.  

Even in South Africa, a drought which occurred in 2018 caused a decline in the grape harvest (by 15 percent) and this led wineries to have to discover new methods of leveraging technology in an effort to manage irrigation, according to VinPro’s Wanda Augustyn.  

Things are changing in , too. , a famous winemaker, is now purchasing land in the Pyrenees Mountains which was previously too cold to grow grapes. But due to climate change, the area is now attractive to those who want to make wine.  

The biggest retail wine market is in the . It’s the fourth biggest wine producing nation behind France, Spain, and Italy (in no particular order), but climate change might change these numbers.  

Climate Change: How it Impacts Grapes 

Not only do wineries have to worry about temperature changes, but they have to bear in mind that climate change leads to wildfires, too. These can obviously cause extreme damage to wineries – and have in California in recent history. Wine grapes can be impacted by smoke, even if the fire never reaches them.  

As climate change persists, new wine varietals are going to come. Using new varietals is going to be key in learning to cope with temperature changes. The same notion applies to buying land that is located higher up.  

Climate Change is Impacting the Industry

At the University of California, Davis (a renowned center for wine science), viticulture expert  discussed how climate change has impacted the industry in recent years. He is currently experimenting with options in Napa’s Beckstoffer Vineyards to see if he can discover crops that are more resistant to heat and drought. He mentioned the realization that over the next decades, we will have more greenhouse gases and hotter temperatures, so climate change has been causing and will continue to cause shifts. 

Many realize that they need to act now, like , winemaker at Larkmead Vineyards in Napa Valley. He discussed how things are happening faster than anticipated. Larkmead is popular for its Cabernet wines which can sell for more than $300 per bottle. He wants to maintain his label’s popular flavor while being able to remove acidity induced by the heat. He mentioned how the time to start thinking of these things is today. He is spot on.  

Climate Change: Time to Take Action

Clearly, climate change is changing things up across the globe. It has started to have an impact on wineries and how they are creating and maintaining the delicious flavors of the wines we enjoy. Pay attention to what is going on and realize climate change is impacting day to day life – we need to take action now to reduce the impact of climate change!  




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