Early harvest is normally linked to higher quality wines. Wine grapes in France are being harvested much earlier than in the past due to global warming.
While climate change is a huge threat to coastal cities and arid regions in the world, the rising temperature may be good news for French vineyards.
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New research has found that global warming is affecting the way grapes are generally grown and harvested and this thing is reflecting in the taste of wine and making it even better.
As the Earth warms up, French wines are being harvested earlier - almost two weeks earlier than in the past and we know that early harvesting means higher quality of wine. Researchers suspect that French wine can not maintain this high quality taste forever.
"There are two big points in this paper, the first is that harvest dates are getting much earlier, and all the evidence points to it being linked to climate change. Especially since 1980, when we see a major turning point for temperatures in the northern hemisphere, we see harvest dates across France getting earlier and earlier.” Co-author Elizabeth Wolkovich, professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University said in a statement.
“The bad news is if we keep warming the globe we will reach a tipping point. The trend, in general, is that earlier harvest leads to higher-quality wine but you can connect the dots here…we have several data points that tell us there is a threshold we will probably cross in future where higher temperatures will not produce higher quality.”
Research also points to the fact that early harvest may not be solely responsible for better wines, there can be other factors involved in it. For example, in 2003, a massive wave of heat pushed the temperature higher and led to thousands of deaths in the continent. But the wine which was produced as a result of early harvest at that time was of mixed quality.
For the study, researchers looked at the vineyards throughout the France such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne, used records about harvesting, temperature and precipitation dating back to 1600 years and put together one large picture of the impact of climate change on harvesting of grapes. Their work is not intended to find the answers about the impact of global warming on a single specific vineyard or the effects of local climate on harvesting.
“You want to harvest when the grapes are perfectly ripe when they’ve had enough time to accumulate just the right balance between acid and sugar,” said Wolkovich. “For much of France, there have been times when it’s difficult to get the exact harvest date growers want because the climate wasn’t warm enough that year…but climate change means the grapes are maturing fast.”
However, the connection between climate and grapes could possibly work as a tool to examine global warming and environmental changes.
“Grapes have allowed us, because of their long term record, to see that we have fundamentally shifted the climate system through our actions,” Wolkovich said. “We can see from these long-term records, there are other, cascading consequences for winegrapes as well.”