Monday, May 29, 2006

Spanish grape to chill out when globe warms.

To save their $US2.4 billion industry from global warming, Spanish winemakers are shading wineries, developing heat-resistant grape genes and in a mass 'treechange', uprooting and migrating up the mountains. :::[Miami Herald]

Heat and sunlight increase sugar levels in wine grapes, which can boost alcohol content beyond what is palatable. Hotter weather may also curb grape acidity, changing the flavor, and unexpectedly rainy and cold seasons can devastate a year's crop.

A rise of even one degree Celcius will harm the lowland vinyards, and several prestigious companies are staking out suitable new locations in the cooler higher Pyranees. "Temperatures may rise 7 degrees Celsius by the end of the century", said Jose Manuel Moreno, professor of climatology at the University of Castilla La Mancha.

"Wine makers must plan to protect their grapes, because vines can keep producing wine for as many as 80 years and will be exposed to several generations of warming temperatures", reports Richard Smart, an Australian wine industry consultant advising on climate change.

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