As recently reported in the press, leading Victorian winery Brown Brothers has acquired Tasmanian producer Tamar Ridge Estates. The reasons for the deal, as stated by Brown Brothers CEO Ross Brown,  highlight how commercial winemakers are now actively developing strategies to accommodate the effects of climate change.

“The Brown Brothers Board has been carefully considering how global warming may impact our vineyards through drought and high temperatures and recently adopted a strategy to source grapes from cooler areas,” Brown stated the company’s media release. Tasmania is fast developing an excellent reputation for pinot noir and sparkling wines in particular, and Brown acknowledges that “[Tamar Ridge] is a very sound business that ticks all our strategic objectives for growth in pinot and sparkling, and at the same time reduces the risk of drought and associated high temperatures and scarcity of water.”

Winemakers are not the only ones trying to assess the possible impact of climate change on future grape production. Dr Leanne Webb from CSIRO, and the University of Melbourne have spent years studying the effects of climate change on wine growing and what this will mean for the growers and consumers.

Climate change is throwing up three main challenges for wine growers: phenology changes, limited water access and rising temperatures. Phenology is the timing of biological events, like bud burst, and evidence suggests that earlier ripening of fruit and a narrower picking window are already occurring in places like the Hunter Valley.

Higher temperatures and the reduced availability to water, especially in inland growing regions which rely on irrigation, are by far the two biggest concerns for Australian winemakers. But according to Dr Webb, climate change actually varies regionally, with temperatures accelerating at a faster rate in the central parts of the country and a lesser rate in coastal … Read the rest