Climate change is good news for NZ grape growers

Grape vines in Martinborough, a popular wine growing region in NZ. Photo / Ross Setford
Grape vines in Martinborough, a popular wine growing region in NZ. Photo / Ross Setford

A warming planet could double the amount of good grape growing land in New Zealand over the next 40 years, a new study shows.

The study, by Chilean and Californian researchers, found the area of land suitable for growing grapes would change substantially around the world under predicted climate shifts in the next four decades.

Classic wine-producing regions such as California and the Mediterranean will experience substantial losses of vine-friendly land, according to the research, published in PNAS this morning.

However, New Zealand, western North America, and Northern Europe show substantial increases in good land.

The author's model estimates NZ's potential wine growing area could rise by 168 per cent.

To sustain wine production, the authors suggest growers will need to expand and adopt novel farming practices that are likely to impinge on undisturbed high biodiversity areas and use limited water resources.

Dr Glen Creasy, President of the New Zealand Society for Viticulture and Oenology, says the paper indicates the potential for vineyards to be planted in a much larger part of Canterbury and Marlborough coastal areas, inland of Wanganui and west from Martinborough to Masterton.

"These are already being explored by the wine industry," he said.

"The wine industry as a whole is more likely to move to varieties of grapes that perform better in warmer climates ...

rather than persist with existing varieties and use expensive measures such as misting to cool vines."

Dr Creasy says the findings are important, but warns against applying them blindly to the NZ wine industry.


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