European wineries' losses could be Canada's gain
Published Thursday, October 26, 2017 8:42PM EDT
A warming climate is hitting the world’s traditional wine-producing regions hard and Canada’s vintners could end up benefiting.
A new study released earlier this week by Organisation International de la Vigne et du Vin says that extreme weather in 2017 has caused global production to drop to levels not seen since the 1950s or early 1960s.
Wine production fell by an estimated 15 per cent in Spain, 19 per cent in France and 23 per cent in Italy, according to the OIV. Together, the three countries account for more than 40 per cent of production.
U.S. output was down only one per cent, according to the study, but that doesn’t include the impact of the unprecedented wildfires that struck northern California’s wine-growing region.
That leaves countries like South Africa, Australia, England and Canada to pick up the slack.
Cornell University’s Justine Vanden Heuvel told CTV News Channel that climate change is causing heat spikes that push alcohol levels too high, while also causing hail and droughts. She says French wines like Burgundy, Bordeaux and Champagne have been affected.
But the climate may have improved for vintners in other regions. “I think there are people who would argue that Ontario and British Columbia have probably benefited from some of the increased heat spikes in the last few years,” Vanden Heuvel said.
In Nova Scotia, climate change has meant warmer summers are fewer vine-killing deep freezes in recent years. Michael Lightfoot, owner of Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards in the Annapolis Valley, said that’s allowed him to grow grape varieties “that we would never have dreamed of.”
Research has also recently predicted that a changing climate will make wine growing easier in a large swath of Quebec, which has a similar latitude as France’s Bordeaux region but previously had too many deep freezes in winter.
With a report from CTV’s Todd Battis