Warm Southern Breeze

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Could Climate Change help the Global Economy?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Raise a Glass of Scottish Wine to Global Climate Changes

By Rudy Ruitenberg Mar 25, 2014 11:00 PM CT

Thanks to climate change, Christopher Trotter will make history later this year by pairing a Scottish white wine with the local spoots.

The razor clams harvested from the nearby shores of the North Sea will go down nicely with the first bottles from Trotter’s vineyard north of Edinburgh. The 2014 vintage will be special for Scotland, where Highlanders have distilled whisky and brewed ale for centuries.

“Scotland has probably been more of a beer-drinking nation than anything else,” said Trotter, a chef and food writer. Wine hasn’t been part of the culture, he said, “until now.”

Chris Trotter, Scottish Chef & Vintner, stands in his vineyard

Christopher Trotter, Scottish Chef, Vintner and food writer, stands in his vineyard in Fife, Scotland
– Source: Christopher Trotter via Bloomberg

Trotter might as well pour a splash on the ground in memory of a vanishing world. Climate change, which scientists say is caused by heat-trapping gas accumulating in the atmosphere, is transforming dinner tables and scrambling traditions in the $270 billion global wine industry. In Europe, warmer seasons are chasing Italian and Spanish vintners up hillsides, making a winner of Germany, encouraging growers in Poland and spreading the cultivation of wine grapes to latitudes friendlier to belly-warming whiskies and ales. And it’s raising the alcohol content, and altering the flavors, of famous wines in France.

Vitis vinifera, the common grape vine, is a finicky crop. Vineyards flourish where average annual temperatures range from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius (50 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit). Too much dry weather, hail or too much rain can downgrade or wreck a vintage.

“Scotland has probably been more of a beer-drinking nation than anything else,” said Trotter, a chef and food writer. Wine hasn’t been part of the culture, he said, “until now.”

Trotter might as well pour a splash on the ground in memory of a vanishing world. Climate change, which scientists say is caused by heat-trapping gas accumulating in the atmosphere, is transforming dinner tables and scrambling traditions in the $270 billion global wine industry. In Europe, warmer seasons are chasing Italian and Spanish vintners up hillsides, making a winner of Germany, encouraging growers in Poland and spreading the cultivation of wine grapes to latitudes friendlier to belly-warming whiskies and ales. And it’s raising the alcohol content, and altering the flavors, of famous wines in France.

Vitis vinifera, the common grape vine, is a finicky crop. Vineyards flourish where average annual temperatures range from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius (50 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit). Too much dry weather, hail or too much rain can downgrade or wreck a vintage.

Fine Wine

“Wine is very responsive to climatic factors,” said Karl Storchmann, a professor of economics at New York University and managing editor of the Journal of Wine Economics. “This is especially true for fine wine, when weather-induced vintage-to-vintage price variations can exceed 1,000 percent.”

Over centuries, growers in the top producing countries — France, Italy and Spain — selected grape varieties that now account for 75 percent of the world’s wine plantings, according to a database prepared by the University of Adelaide in Australia.

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