Climate Change Is Souring The Australian Wine Industry

Posted: Aug 21, 2019

Climate change is arguably one of the biggest threats to the future of our planet and now it seems it's going for the things we love the most - our wine!

"When people ask me 'have you got a good example of climate change?', I say 'talk to a viticulturist", says Christopher Davies, senior research scientist at the CSIRO.

Davies is part of a project between the CSIRO and Wine Australia focused on saving the Australian wine industry from climate change. He explains that grapes are extremely sensitive to heat, and as the planet continues to warm, the wine industry is feeling the sting.

"It just reflects what's happening much more broadly across the agriculture sectors," says Professor Mark Howden, director of the Climate Change Institute at the Australian National University.

"Climate change is already having an impact, not just based on the amount of product that they can grow, but also on the quality of product."

"It's an extremely concerning problem for viticulture in Australia," says fifth-generation Hunter Valley winemaker, Alisdair Tulloch.

In the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, the soil has all but turned to dust. The ongoing drought has grape growers in the renowned Australian wine region nervous about yet another challenging season.

"The extreme drought has affected the yields on some of our vineyards, some dropping beneath 25 percent of what they had previously yielded," Tulloch said.

"Fruit comes in faster with a shorter window to pick all the fruit. It causes a lot of logistical headaches and it really is unsustainable when you think what that will look like in 10 to 20 years."

It's the same story for vineyards in South Australia, says David Bruer, who has been making wine in the region since the 1970s.

The Australian government supports the wine industry through a range of measures aimed at addressing productivity, profitability and climate planning.

"They support a lot of research. The government is not doing nothing", says Bruer, "but it needs to better acknowledge the current reality of climate change in order to create meaningful change."

"I think my main criticism with our government is they don't seem to believe climate change is real - it is."

To help pressure the Australian Government into taking real action against climate change by recognising the Great Barrier Reef as an Australian citizen and making decisions that would protect this great Australian from the threats of a warming planet, click here.

August 20, 2019

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