Future for wine mapped out in world-first
A WORLD — LEADING resource developed in Australia is assisting local grapegrowers and winemakers to plan for the effects of climatic variability and climate change.
Developed by the Climate Futures Group at the University of Tasmania and funded by Wine Australia, Australia’s wine future: A Climate Atlas describes short and long-term trends for Australian wine regions until 2100.
The Climate Atlas features information tailored for individual regions, with a focus on heat accumulation and aridity, and the likelihood of heatwave and frost.
Granite Belt winemaker and president of the Queensland Wine Industry Association Mike Hayes says it’s a game changer.
“The predictions cover the next 80 years for each wine region and where they’re going to end up,” Mr Hayes said.
“It is one of the most significant documents for the Australian wine industry, if not ever, but certainly in at least the last 40 years.
“It shows we need to learn to become smarter farmers.
“We need to change growing techniques, change growing habits and most importantly drought tolerating our vineyards,” Mr Hayes said.
The Granite Belt’s typical wine growing period is between September through to the end of April.
The temperature sits on average around 18.7 degrees. By 2100 it’ll reach an average of 22 degrees.
“That would put us in line with where the Murray Darling is, the Riverina around Wagga Wagga, the Riverlands and Swan Valley near Perth,” Mr Hayes said.
“That’s quite a significant jump for us.”
The average rainfall through the growing period of the area is predicted to jump from 573mm to 635mm.
Frost risk days will go from an average of 41 to 11.
Mr Hayes says that ultimately it’ll force changes in how wineries grow and what varieties they can grow.
Drops like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay will go out the window, with a bigger focus on growing southern Italian varietals such as Pecorino, Montepulciano, Negroamaro and Fiano.
“Most of those already live quite harmoniously on the Granite Belt,” Mr Hayes said.
Queensland’s other main wine region, the South Burnett, will feel the changes substantially more.
Temperatures there will rise from 22.4 to 25.7 on average. Days of temperatures between 30-35 degrees will dramatically increase.
Mr Hayes said growers in that region will have no choice but to adapt and begin growing varieties from the Iberian Penninsula of Spain and Portugal.
“It’s no doom and gloom. But, it does mean some varieties will disappear,” Mr Hayes said.
Wine Australia General Manager Dr Liz Waters said the online atlas was a valuable resource to help the sector manage climate variability.
“Extreme weather events have always posed a challenge for grapegrowers around the world and this new resource will help Australia’s growers to choose adaptive strategies tailored for the changes in their region based on inter-annual and decadal projections,” Dr Waters said.
The Climate Atlas resource is available for download from Wine Australia.