Extreme weather could kill wine production

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You might want to start stocking up on your favourite pinot noir and hoarding that malbec you can’t get enough of. The extreme weather we’ve witnessed over the past few years has been impacting global wine production – and the impact has been more serious than you may have expected.

This year global wine production is expected to hit a fifty year low, dropping by a substantial 8.2%. The cause? Extreme weather affecting important wine regions across the world. From earthquakes in Italy and heatwaves across Europe, to droughts in South Africa and raging fires in California’s famous Napa Valley, vines all over the globe have been burned, drowned, frozen and battered.

Grapes are notoriously difficult crops to grow, requiring perfect conditions, sunshine, water, a South facing slope and plenty of care and attention in order to achieve their optimum ripeness and deliciousness. Every wine relies on different grapes, mixtures and approaches for its distinctive flavour and body. But when weather conditions are so changeable and so extreme, growing great grapes for your favourite tipple becomes very difficult indeed.

Wine production may be at a fifty year low, but it’s not all bad news. Some of the most traditional wine-making nations may be down on their luck, but other countries have been nurturing their wine industries – and have been more fortunate with the weather.

Although the effects of this autumn’s fires remain to be seen on the Napa Valley’s vines, the USA is now the fourth largest wine producing nation in the world. Meanwhile, down under, Australia’s wine production rose by 6% – the nation’s third consecutive annual production rise. Other, less familiar, countries are also picking up production and entering the fray. Romania, Hungary, Portugal and Austria have all recorded wine production increasing.

By far the most impressive growth has happened on Argentinian soil. This South American nation is no stranger to a rich red, but has seen wine production spike by a not unimpressive 25% from 2016 to 2017.

So is it time to panic buy pinot grigio and stock up on shiraz? The answer is probably no. Some key wine producing regions have taken a hit thanks to extreme weather events this year, but there are some very promising new areas of growth and – freak weather aside – grapes will grow again next year.

Which wine could you not live without? Which is your favourite “new wine” nation? Share your picks with other oenophiles below.