Friday, 28 August 2009

French wine growers have to adapt their harvesting habits to combat climat change

Wine producers in France are coming up with new ways of cooling their harvest, to protect their wines from the effects of global warming.

LES VALENTINES AND CLOS MIREILLE, PROVENCE, FRANCE (AUGUST 27, 2009)REUTERS - French wine producers are looking to new ways of harvesting local wines as climate change they say threatens to alter their elements.
Each wine-growing terrain has it's own unique reaction to the climate in the region and viniculture is carried out accordingly, with century-old savoir-faire which contributes to the individuality of the wine.

However, due to global warming, the potency and sugar levels of these wines may be hampered and wine growers have to adapt and change their techniques.

"We've been asking questions about how to make wine as good and with not too much alcohol, because one of the consequences of such a strong temperature is that the grapes accumulate a lot of sugar and this sugar transforms itself in alcohol later. And it also gives us some problems about the temperature of harvesting. When you want to make a very good white or a very good rosé you have to harvest at a mild temperature, not a hot temperature," said Gilles Pons, owner of Les Valentines vineyard.

To avoid very high temperatures and protect their crop, the bigger wine-growing domains have come up with new ways to change their harvesting habits.

"The big domains, let's say domains which are above let's say 50 hectares, they have quite a bit of harvesting to achieve. So what they do is they use big machines to harvest in the night. So it's one way of harvesting at a cool temperature," Pons said.

This is not the best solution for vineyards in the Provence region however, because this season the temperature touched over 20 degrees Celsius even at 5am.

Gilles Pons says they have to use new technology to combat the situation.

"We've changed a little bit of our habits and we've invested in different materials to cool the harvest which is coming into our wine cellar," Pons said.

This year however, has been a good one for Les Valentines in Provence, as opposed to vineyards in Burgundy and Bordeaux.

"This is a better year than 2007-2008 for us, because we got a bit of water since winter and spring and we are expecting a little more this summer," said Jean-Christophe Dumoulin, Wine storehouse master at Les Valentines.

Associations like Greenpeace fear that if nothing is done to control global warming, the wine industry will suffer even more serious consequences.

Vines would move to 1,000 kilometres above their traditional limit by the end of the century, making it impossible to preserve wine regions which the French wine industry cherish.