A Google News search of the phrase “Climate Change” turns up a story in Triple Pundit claiming global warming threatens grape harvests and wine production. Real-world data say otherwise. Grape production has grown significantly since NASA scientist James Hansen first claimed humans were causing catastrophic climate change in a 1988 Senate hearing.
The author of a Triple Pundit article titled, “Sunscreen on Grapes? This Crop Is the Climate Change Canary in the Coal Mine,” claims climate change threatens to put vintners in the worlds’ top wine producing regions out of business.
“Climate change is already affecting some of the more sensitive types of grapes worldwide. In a few years, the lucky ones will say they were only ‘affected,’ as a warming planet could devastate many vineyards this decade,” says Triple Pundit.
That vintners are struggling to make a living might be news to them, because data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), shows the five highest years of grape production on record have all occurred since 2013. (See the figure)
New records for global grape production were set in 2013, 2015, and most recently in 2018. Between 1988 and 2019—the last year for which FAO has data and also the second largest production year on record—grape production increased by approximately 33 percent.
Looking at individual wine producing countries, FAO data show that grape production has grown substantially in seven of the top 10 wine producing countries between 1988 and 2019.
Grape production, as with all other crops, varies from year to year, due to a variety of factors, such as the local weather conditions, farm inputs, and acres planted. Despite the yearly ups and downs, the record clearly shows, as the earth has modestly warmed grape production has increased. Contrary to the impression given by Triple Pundit, as vintners in different countries have faced different challenges, they have adapted, planting the varietals that best suit their particular soils and weather conditions.
Just as there is no real-world data showing humans are causing a climate catastrophe, there is also no hard data showing global warming is threatening the continued success of the wine industry. The bottom line is: The world isn’t running out of wine, so it that’s your drink of choice, drink up, but drink responsibly!