Making Wine in a Changing Climate

„We are all going to have to get used to more bad harvests in the future as the changing climate means we are going to see a lot more ups and downs on the back of severe weather events.“

Richard Siddle, The Buyer

Maison Mirabeau Co-Founder Stephen Cronk joined a panel discussion at Vinexpo Paris on ‚Making Wine in a Changing Climate‘. Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris is an annual event which this year ran from 14 to 16 February and was a great opportunity for Mirabeau to exhibit on the Vins de Provence stand.

Decanter contributor and international consultant Rupert Joy moderated the discussion on ‘making wine in a changing climate’ with other members of the panel including:

Climate Debate

The Wine Talks also featured a fascinating discussion about some of the steps producers and climate experts are taking to address the environmental crisis.

It featured insights from Stephen Cronk, founder of Maison Mirabeau in Provence, who spoke passionately about the huge role that regenerative viticulture farming could potentially have on keeping vineyards soils alive and healthy. It will mean a different way of working, but any steps that can improve the water table and keep feeding the soils even in harsher climates has to be the way forward, he said.

Jeremy Cukierman MW, director of the Kedge Business School, agreed that regenerative farming was going to “be key” in how producers tackle climate change, but said it was hard to get an industry wide approach as it was just too fragmented and each country and region was facing its own particular issues.

But he echoed Cronk’s feelings that we “have to do something”. Cukierman added: “I believe we can fight climate change if we work together.

Climate Clashes

The two clashed with Pau Roca Blasco, director general of the OIV, who questioned what real effective impact the wine industry could have on what is such global issue. “What we can do is quite small compared to other industries,” he said. His argument was we can’t “we can’t fight against climate change” in the sense of stopping floods and frosts happening, we can only “mitigate – but not so much”. He says we need to be preparing and “adapting” for a world “after climate change”. Even a global lockdown only reduced C02 levels by 5% to 7%, he added.

Cukierman took him to task: “It’s not helpful. We need to have hope. We are doing things to mitigate the impact.” He argued the wine industry had a huge role to play and to “shout loudly” about the steps it is taking. “We can be extremely important and influential to other agriculture sectors”. Cronk equally disagreed with the OIV chief: “We must do our bit. If we acknowledge that climate change is human caused then we must what we can to decelerate the rate of change. Even if we reduce by just 1%. We need to do something.”

It was an issue producers are facing in their vineyards every day, stressed Cronk who shared how Mirabeau had felt the full force of nature having seen the majority of the 2022 harvest from its own estate wiped out due to wild forest fires. “We need to address this now,” he urged. “Fluctuations in temperature are going to be so hard to predict and manage.”

The key for winemakers in the future is the steps they can take to “delay harvests” so that they can ensure their grapes are right for picking, said Josep Maria Ribas Portella, climate change manager at Familia Torres, one of the leading players in the world on climate change action.

We are likely to see a big change in the grapes being planted in the future and a move away from what we see as being the big classic varieties of today, he added. It’s why Torres has invested so much in re-planting ancestral varieties that are far more heat resistant. Torres, he added, was committed to setting the standards and measuring its results to hopefully act as a catalyst for others to follow – particularly through its work with the International Wineries for Climate Action on which Josep Maria Ribas Portella is a board member.

Pau Roca Blaso – Director General of the International Organisation of Vine & Wine
Jeremy Cukierman MW – director of Kedge Wine School and author of ‘Quel vin pour demain?‘ and
Josep Maria Ribas Portella, Climate Change Manager at Familia Torres and board member of the International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA) group.

Read the full article by Richard Siddle: „Supply Chain Climate Change Debate„.

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