Research highlight

Climate Change: Adapting wine to change

Nature Climate Change

February 27, 2012

Trends towards earlier wine grape maturation in Australia can be primarily attributed to two climate-related variables: warming and declining soil water content reports a study published online this week in Nature Climate Change. Crop-yield reductions and evolving management practices were also found to have contributed - findings which may help to effectively target adaptation strategies. Early ripening of wine grapes, as seen in Australia in recent years, often has undesirable impacts on wine quality. Such trends in ecological life-cycle events associated with climate change are widely reported, yet attribution of these trends to driving mechanisms remains rare. Leanne Webb and co-workers undertook this attribution analysis through statistical modelling of long records, up to 64 years, of wine grape maturity and environmental variables from across Southern Australia. As some of the factors found to be driving earlier maturity, such as soil moisture and crop yield, can be manipulated through directed management, the authors believe that this research provides useful insights into how to maintain wine quality under changing environmental conditions.

doi: 10.1038/nclimate1417

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