Global Warming Hits US Wine Industry

AEN News

New York - Wine affectionatos beware! Global warming could spell disaster for the US wine industry, according to the National Academy of Sciences, which said that wine growing regions of the United States could be reduced by as much as 50 percent due to climate change.

Lengthier periods of hot days is at the crux of the scientists statement toward the multibillion dollar US wine industry. As the Earth grows hotter, fewer areas in the country will be suitable for growing quality wine grapes.

Ask any winery operator and they will tell you that grapes used in premium wines need a consistent climate, and when temperatures top about 95 degrees they have problems maintaining photosynthesis, and the sugars in the grapes can break down.

What put the climatologists onto the wine crisis was the extremely long amount of time that data has been available on wine grapes. A panel of top climate researchers convened by the National Academy of Sciences reported last month that the Earth is heating up and that "human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming." They said average global surface temperatures rose by about 1 degree in the 20th century.

Using historical climate data and a model that forecasts human-driven climate change, researchers looked at growing scenarios throughout the country. The scientists found that when the simulation included the effects of extreme weather, especially the hotter temperatures expected, about 81 percent of all U.S. grape wine growing areas and almost 50 percent of the areas that produce the highest quality of the grapes are lost.

In 2003, a heat wave in Europe hit hard in the Spanish wine grape growing regions, cutting production by more than 79 million gallons. Italy and France also reported cuts in wine production that year thanks to higher temperatures.

The report on global warming appears in this week's journal for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.