Brian Walsh, director of winemaking at Yalumba, has told business leaders in Adelaide that a rise in temperatures could prevent the growth of some cooler grape varieties, such as shiraz and riesling, for which South Australia’s Barossa Valley is famous. ”Basically, the Barossa will disappear,” he said.
A similar observation has been made by viticulturist, Frank van de Loo, at the Mt Majura vineyard near Canberra.
Mr van de Loo has recorded grape harvest days each year. "Over the last 20 vintages, this is our 21st vintage, we’ve been coming in at an average of 2.4 days earlier each year," he says. "Of course the curve bounces around a lot from year to year depending on the individual season, but it has a very clear trend. Before long, we’ll have to quit growing chardonnays."
Mr Walsh pointed out that regions in Italy and France grow wine in hot arid conditions similar to Australia, and peolple there choose wine from a particular region. But Australians choose wine based on the grape varieties, like shiraz, reisling or chardonnay and in the future it may not be possible to grow these varieties in regions like the Barossa.
He said that winemakers need to start looking at varieties for hot, dry climates now and not wait 30 years and say ”I wish I’d done something”.
”It’s a risk strategy and out of some of those times we might just stumble across something which is a fantastic idea we haven’t thought of yet," he said.