In the Spanish province Leridá the harvest is in full swing on vineyards up to 1000 meters high. The winemaker Xavi Admella explains that the vineyards have been laid out to compensate severe climate fluctuations. The grapes grow more slowly then at the regions below 300 meters. The European environmental agency EEA explains that farmers have to do so to be prepared for the changes in the next 20 years.
Miguel Torres, owner of the internationally spread wine company Torres is very explicit on the topic: "It is becoming increasingly difficult around the Mediterranean to continue with the way we are used to growing. We have to relocate our wine regions further and further north to Spain to begin with."
"The grapes are extremely sensitive, and ultimately the thermometer of the climate changes," says Torres. "The ripening is much faster. The sugar content of blue grapes rises, which is why the alcohol content of wine is higher today than in the past. In the 60s the alcohol was around 12 %. Today that is more towards 14 to 15 %.
Experts claim the real danger is not the heat but the water management. It’s the quality of the water but also about keeping the water near the vineyards. Last summer there were days with extreme rainfall but all that water ended up in the sea because the soil doesn’t absorb enough. Farmers are advised to build special basins to retain the water close by.
Beyond the wine trade is a bigger, almost ethical dilemma at stake. If we want to feed the expected 9 billion people 30 years from now, we have to start taking big measures now.