Vine Talk: Warming trends may change global wine map

Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:27am EDT
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Edward Deitch is an award-winning wine columnist based in the United States. He created and wrote a weekly column for eight years on and in 2010 launched a wine blog, He also serves on tasting panels for Wine & Spirits Magazine. The opinions expressed are his own.

By Edward Deitch

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - The wine industry may be among the very few in which a leading figure will smile broadly when asked about climate change and declare, "I love it."

Egon Müller, owner of the famed Scharzhof estate in Germany's Saar Valley, made the comment at Riesling Rendezvous, a conference in Bellevue, Washington.

Müller is elated because growers in cooler-climate regions like the Saar often struggle to achieve ripeness in their grapes, and warmer temperatures are helping.

But what happens when it gets too warm, as scientists predict, for some grape varieties to grow optimally in some regions?

If Egon Müller doesn't seem concerned about the possibility, two climate scientists who spoke at the conference certainly are.

Dr. Greg Jones, of Southern Oregon University, said he understands Müller's sentiment, shortsighted as it may be.

"If you look at most of the places growing grapes worldwide, many of them have been right at the cool-limit margins and so a little bit of warming has made them more suitable," Jones said.   Continued...