It’s hot outside people…real hot. And while it’s always been hot in Houston during the summer, it’s hot in a lot of other places that, historically, aren’t known for their heatwaves. Call it what you will, global warming or climate change, doesn’t matter. It’s happening right now.
It’s also changing a lot of things. We are on the verge of seeing a big shift in humanity…in how we live on this planet. I wonder if it will eventually get too hot to live on the equator? Or if the Gulf of Mexico will eventually establish its beaches more inland…maybe the water will come up to 610, that would be convenient! Or if the fertile farm areas of the U.S. will dry up, dust bowl style. Climate change is happening, it always has, earth over the millennia has cooled and warmed time and time again.
But what of the grapes? What will happen to the wine?
It was 108 Degrees in Bordeaux the other day.
Those are tough conditions to be sure…
What is the future of wine and climate change?
“Wine, which is among the most sensitive and nuanced of agricultural products, shows how climate change is transforming traditions and practices that may be centuries old.”
- Eric Asimov
Wine from curious locations:
We are starting to see wine from places not normally associated with winemaking. As the temperature increases, folks are moving north and south to establish or reanimate vineyards. One of the places that surprised me recently was England, thirty years ago no one had heard of wines from the UK. Now it has a world class sparkling wine industry…It’s not only England. Vineyards have been planted in Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Sweden and I for one am excited to see the results. Here in North America, we are seeing Canadian Wines come around from British Columbia and Ontario and they are great! In the Southern Hemisphere, growers are pushing south, deep into Patagonia in Argentina and Chile. Some of the plantings are now experimental, but in coming years, expect to see these areas more deeply explored.
Producers are now planting vineyards at altitudes once considered inhospitable to growing wine grapes. High elevation grape growing has always been a challenge with the grapes fully ripening later than vineyards planted in choicer areas, sometimes not fully ripening at all creating thin wines. But over time these mountain plots have been making better and better wine as the temperature rises. Argentina has some of the highest vineyards in the world (I think the highest is at 11,000 ft) and well, the quality of Argentine wine speaks for itself.
For many producers, particularly small family estates or those in historic appellations, new vineyards in cooler environments are not an option. Instead, they must consider whether to change the essence of what they have been doing, in some cases for centuries.
That might mean leaving behind the grapes that have long been associated with their region, and selecting ones more appropriate for the changing climate. It may seem impossible to imagine Bordeaux without cabernet sauvignon and merlot, or Champagne without pinot noir and chardonnay, but the prospect of a much warmer future may require even the most famous wine regions to rethink their methods. This is already happening experimentally in Bordeaux and Napa Valley, two prestigious regions closely associated with cabernet sauvignon. In Bordeaux, where producers may use only grapes that are permitted by the appellation authorities, seven additional grapes have been selected for experiments to determine whether they can be used to mitigate the effects of climate change.
For farmers, and especially grape growers, experience counts for an awful lot. No two years are identical, but over time they will have seen many different weather events and learned how to respond in most cases. Meticulous records over decades, even centuries, can be a big help.
While weather always surprises, experienced farmers generally know what to expect. With climate change, that is no longer true. Forest fires, floods, droughts — wine regions will have to learn how to deal regularly with these once-rare devastations.
The “Silver Lining”:
As all of these variables complicate something that has been relatively consistent for hundreds of years, human ingenuity takes hold and produces something new and great. We have some examples of these new styles on our shelves already…Wine from Patagonia, high altitude Argentine wines, Canadian Wines. A necessary example would be the Joe Swick BBQ Wine…100% Pinot Noir made from a vineyard that was smoke washed from a forest fire nearby. Usually, these grapes get thrown out but Swick went all in and made an incredibly interesting and polarizing wine. Mezcal vibes…like sitting in front of a campfire drinking Pinot Noir, it’s really great with BBQ as you can imagine. In California, we are seeing lower yields, prompting the winemakers to blend in ultra delicious ways. We are seeing a lot of red and white varietals being blended together to make “light chillable reds aka brosé”. As the climate changes, I think we are going to see more and more innovation from wine producers. While climate change sucks and it sucks that it will literally be over 100 every day this week in Houston at least we have incredibly refreshing wines from innovative winemakers doing their best…
We are in love with light chillable reds, what we like to call brosé.
Think of a cranberry juice colored rosé…a little darker than your typical rosé, a little more complex and interesting but still refreshing. From single varietals that had plenty of skin contact time to fun new wave blends from the west coast of red and white varietals.
I don’t know who made up the term brosé but it makes sense I guess. I am not sure why but there (especially in Texas) is a stigma of men drinking rosé. Get over it! Get into refreshment.
Drink Pink, get into brosé!
Free Summer Wine Tasting at Bodega Bellaire!!!
On July 23rd from 1-4 pm we will host Cody of Pangea Wines (ATX) to run through a sampling of refreshing wines to cool you down! In addition to incredible wine we will have our CBD bar set up so you can try the latest in functional beverages. Plus we will be joined by BEE 2 BEE honey...with bee hives all over Houston they bring hyperlocal honey to the market and will be sampling Meyerland and Gulfton honeys alongside Dairymaids Cheeses at our tasting!
Hope to see y'all there!
Enjoy this coupon, on us! Just show it on your phone at checkout and we'll knock $5 off your purchase...woohoo!