Climate and the evolving mix of grape varieties in Australia’s wine regions

The purpose of this study is to examine the changing mix of winegrape varieties in Australia so as to address the question: In the light of key climate indicators and predictions of further climate change, how appropriate are the grape varieties currently planted in Australia’s wine regions? To achieve this, regions are classified into zones according to each region’s climate variables, particularly average growing season temperature (GST), leaving aside within-region variations in climates. Five different climatic classifications are reported. Using projections of GSTs for the mid- and late 21st century, the extent to which each region is projected to move from its current zone classification to a warmer one is reported. Also shown is the changing proportion of each of 21 key varieties grown in a GST zone considered to be optimal for premium winegrape production. Together these indicators strengthen earlier suggestions that the mix of varieties may be currently less than ideal in many Australian wine regions, and would become even less so in coming decades if that mix was not altered in the anticipation of climate change. That is, grape varieties in many (especially the warmest) regions will have to keep changing, or wineries will have to seek fruit from higher latitudes or elevations if they wish to retain their current mix of varieties and wine styles.

Authors: Kym Anderson1, Gregory Jones2, German Puga3 and Richard Smart4

1,3Wine Economics Research Centre, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA, Australia 
2Abacela Vineyards and Winery, Roseburg OR, United States
3Centre for Global Food and Resources, University of Adelaide, Adelaide SA, Australia
4Smart Viticulture, Greenvale Vic, Australia


Keywords: adaptation to climate change, Australia’s viticulture, climatic classifications, winegrape varieties

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