South Australian McLaren Vale wine producers are leading the world at responding to future risk according to a new study investigating the regions adaption to climate change.
Research was undertaken at the University of Adelaide and Université Paris Diderot, with the study led by French researcher Ann-Laure Lerbollet. The study compared the McLaren Vale region in Australia and Roussillon in France, two Mediterranean climate wine regions, with their ability to adapt to climate change at a social, ecological, agricultural and economic level.
The research found that by making the difficult decisions now to adjust viticultural systems; McLaren Vale wine producers are more likely to be resilient to unfavourable climatic conditions in the future.
The viticultural systems in Mediterranean climate areas such as South Australia and southern France are expected to experience significant and rapid changes in climate in the future.
It is anticipated by 2060, there will be a decrease in rainfall by about 30% and an increase in temperature of up to two degree Celsius. These weather variables will have obvious impacts on the quality and quantity of wine produced with additional water stress on the grapevines and berries.
The viticultural challenge will be to consistently produce high-quality wines for international markets whilst coping with climate change. Wine producers are confronted simultaneously with both adapting to climate change and highly competitive market conditions.
The McLaren Vale region has used local initiatives such as recycled water scheme for irrigation, support for government policy to retain rural land use and experimented with viticultural practices to reduce their vulnerability to climate change and establish a resilient system that will allow them to adapt.
The McLaren Vale regions initiatives are fast becoming recognized worldwide for their insight and other industries and regions could benefit from their adaptions methods.
The McLaren Vale region produces between 40-70,000 tonnes of wine grapes annually. In 2010, the region's grape crush had an estimated total value of $51.4 million and the region generated an overall contribution of more than $160 million in tourism revenue.
Such contributions make the region invaluable and yet another reason for us all to take a stance on climate change now instead of procrastinating.
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