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‘Temperature crisis’ could lead to a major re-shuffle of global wine production and demand

Published:  13 May, 2019

Vinegrowing and winemaking worldwide could look very different in the next 30 years, a climate change expert has announced, as the planet accelerates towards a temperature crisis fifty years earlier than expected.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s inaugural climate change symposium at Vinexpo, scientist Patrice Geoffron said that if the Paris Agreement fails, the world could face temperature increases that exceed the target limit of a maximum 2C rise as early as 2050 - significantly sooner than the limit of 2100 set under the terms of the agreement.

The economic consequences of this scenario could be so grave that they will test the world socio-economic order, says Geoffron, director of the Energy-Climate team at Paris-Dauphine University, with dire consequences for world wine.

Ahead of tomorrow’s symposium, Vinexpo has put together a snapshot of world wine production - all of which could suffer major stress due to climate change, it said.

Currently, 7.5 million ha of vineyards are under cultivation worldwide, containing 2,500 geographical designations and around 10,000 wine varieties.

Spain can claim the largest vineyard area in the world, with 1 million ha.

Vine growing is particularly important to Europe where it is the leading agricultural sector accounting for 61% of world volume.

In recent years China has emerged as the second largest area under vine.

Elsewhere in Europe, France is the continent’s leading export country by value; the second largest consumer country and the third largest producer of organic wine.

Italy is Europe’s leading producer by volume, while Spain is the leading export country by volume and Germany the leading importer by volume.

North and South America are growing in importance, led by the US, which is now the world’s leading wine consumer by volume and the leading importer of wine by value.

Australia, the fifth largest wine producer of wine in the world, sells 70% of its wines through supermarkets.

The recent Vinexpo/IWSR research shows that Australia will continue to be the UK’s leading supplier, albeit showing a decline from 23.6 million cases in 2017 to 18.8 million cases, by 2022.

In Britain, the area of wine cultivation is forecast to grow from 2,500 ha to 18,000 ha by 2040, most of it producing sparkling wine.

However, Geoffron questions the future when it comes to climate change and its affect on the UK.

He says: “Although new areas conducive to wine-growing are emerging (the south of Great Britain, for example) suggestions of future Eldorados deserve to be critically examined.”

Stress factors include increased competition from traditional regions adapting and improving their wines, uncertain global demand, and a more unstable global economy meaning there is no guarantee that new production areas will become firmly established.

Geoffron’s comments are part of a study carried out for the first Vinexpo Symposium, called Act for Change, due to be presented tomorrow, day two of the event.

This years’ exhibition is being held a month earlier than usual in Bordeaux.