Wildlife conservation and community volunteer projects and internships worldwide

vineyard sunset

General, World Trends

Climate Change: Is your Wine at Risk?

June 6th 2023

Tagged: climate change, Environment, sustainability, Technology

When we think of climate change, we often talk about changes in the temperature of our planet and the solutions our activist groups and charities put forward close to home. But there are many more industries facing climate damage that we don’t see in our daily lives or in the news. 

vineyard fogWorkingAbroad BlogsThe real threat to viticulture

One of those is incredibly sensitive to changes in our world – viticulture. Or more simply, winemakers and their vineyards. 

Climate change is proving to be the biggest threat to our vineyard communities across the globe. As the practice of growing grapes for one of the world’s most popular drinks is a delicate mix of farming at the right time, nurturing growth and making sure they stay at the right temperature – wine regions are facing new challenges. 

wine harvestWorkingAbroad BlogsThe Art of Winemaking 

Over the past decade, we’ve seen the world of wine transform. Larger valleys can invest in newer technology that helps them collect data on water usage, disease threats and even the ripeness of the humble grape. And on the other hand, we have smaller winemakers that offer unique collections with more focused time from experts and intimate tours for travellers. 

But they’ve both had to adapt the way they do things with the effects of climate change looming over the otherwise beautiful valleys. The wine they produce is changing due to the conditions they’re grown in. Grapes are picked at different times of the year, and those attending the grapes work longer hours to meet these new deadlines. 

The threat of wildfires risks losing a vineyard to flames that catch on quickly – but rainstorms can also wreak havoc on drowning plants. Communities that have followed the same practices for hundreds of years are in new and dangerous territory. 

Innovating to Save you Favourite Wines

As one of the world’s leading grape-producing countries and also making the top ten when it comes to wine export – Portugal is seeing the effects faster than most. This has been a topic that local wine and port makers have been shouting about for a long time. In 2018, Port producers in the Douro Valley led a campaign to draw attention to the rapidly changing environment through Climate Change Leadership: Solutions

Recently, we’ve seen wine producers from across the world come together to save the art. With more focus on sustainability, we’re seeing innovations in reducing water usage and ways to give back to the land our grapes are grown on. And the good news is, we’re already seeing some innovations happening from spraying grapes with sunscreen made from clay (yes, really) to using recycled water to help them thrive. With more focus on sustainability, we’re seeing innovations in reducing water usage and ways to give back to the land our grapes are grown on. 

However, some wineries are really throwing everything they have at the crisis. One vineyard in California’s wine country has created a fully sustainable operation. Including solar panels, temperature controlling and capturing otherwise wasted rainwater they can boast a zero-carbon winery. 

And it doesn’t end there. We’re seeing improvements all along the production line with centuries-old businesses shaking up the way they’ve always done things. In South Africa, one such family-owned winery is proud to share its carbon-responsible status with 100% recycled bottles, vegan and vegetarian options and stringent water efficiency practices. 

wine barrelsWorkingAbroad BlogsThe Future of Vineyards 

Climate change is having a huge impact on our vineyards and the wine industry as a whole. Rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and extreme weather events are messing with the grape-growing process and even the quality of the wine. 

As many leaders continue to talk about preventing more effects of climate change, global winemakers are already dealing with the damage. The future of preserving family-owned vineyards across the world lies in collaboration, innovation and community support. 

And so while climate change poses new and unique challenges, vineyards are determined to adapt and keep producing the delicious wine we love. 

If you’re interested in supporting global projects that help communities deal with the damaging effects of climate change, browse our latest opportunities.

By WorkingAbroad writer, Lucy Gordon 

About the Author

WorkingAbroad Projects

Blog articles about our volunteer projects, the wider world and from volunteers in the field are shared here for everyone to get inspired and learn more about wildlife conservation topics, volunteering abroad and much more.