Something Strange And Terrible Is Happening To France's Wine Grapes

Something Strange and Terrible Is Happening to France's Wine Grapes

We'd suggest you sit down and pour yourself a drink before you hear this news — but, honestly, that would probably only make it worse. Harvest dates for wine around the world have been progressively shifting earlier and earlier, as the warming climate gives us warmer and warmer cold seasons. In a new paper out today in Nature Climate Change, researchers at Columbia University and Harvard University looked at the historical data for early harvests over the last 400 years in France and Switzerland. They found some years over the last centuries that also had the same unusually early start dates we've been seeing recently. And what happened in those years gives us a glimpse into what the wine of the future could be like.

Centuries ago, "good" vintages in early harvest years, especially for Pinot Noir or Chardonnay, benefited from a pretty common weather pattern: cool, very wet weather followed rapidly by a very warm drought. The problem, though, is that while our current harvests have been occurring earlier, that traditional pattern of cool rain and hot drought has been turned on its head. Instead, earlier harvests have a hot season that starts right away. Not only does this result in a more meh-tasting wine for existing varieties, it could also, the researchers warn, shortly make those grapes less likely to grow at all.

So is a wine shortage — or at least, some really terrible vintages — now inevitable? Perhaps not. The researchers suggest a couple paths forward, including growing more hot-weather varieties of wine or shifting production to areas currently considered too cold for wide-scale wine production. Wine will survive, it just may not look or taste the way we're used to.

Top image: jeka84 / Shutterstock

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    Bloody wine always gives me a hangover. Horrid shit.

      Try just drinking it instead of getting pissed on it you clown.

        I can have two glasses and I still get a hangover from the stuff. I'm weird like that.

    The stigma of having a couple beers every night while a large glass or two of wine is seen as fine is annoying me lately

    So this only applies to French grapes? Doesn't that simply mean it'll give other countries/regions a chance to get into the industry? Perhaps some growers could be persuaded or hired to move to 'greener pastures' to continue cultivation of the craft.

    Although I'm not a huge wino, I'm sure there are other good grapes outside of the French varieties.

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