Will Grapes Outlive Us All?

Australia is going through a heat wave. That is pretty obvious and currently, it’s bloody hot.
Is it global warming, climate change or are we going through another cycle of the planet trying to correct itself after suffering torrid abuse from ignorant human beings?
Unless you’ve been living under a volcanic rock and haven’t noticed, the world is heating up. The polar ice caps are melting, and natural disasters seem to be a common occurrence. It appears the human race is hell bent on destroying the only planet we currently have.
The amount of natural resources we consume, over farming the land and an increasing population is some of the reasons the planet is not faring too well.
One industry in particular that always has to balance the force of nature is viticulture. Constantly battling the elements whether man made or natural, every year brings something different in the wine that is produced. Grapes are a sensitive fruit and Pinot Noir, Shiraz (Syrah for those outside of Australia) and Chardonnay are some of the common varieties that are struggling through this current heatwave.
As the lower states Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia heat up to epic levels and the political parties blame each other for the demise of the weather patterns, the submissive grape is fighting for its life. Literally.

Joseph Griffiths, Head Sommelier at The Botanical restaurant in Melbourne, states that “The current heatwave [could] be a problem”. In his opinion, the heat raises the sugar levels which are not ideal, but he says, “some winemaking regions are more sheltered from sun-baking (like that of my friend Alec Epis’s vineyard in the Macedon ranges) which could have advantageous outcomes.”

Joseph continues by saying, “We might see some heavy hitting blockbusters this season. But they may lack a certain degree of finesse due to a lower compound of acidity.”
Also adding that if the heat doesn’t dissipate soon we may be in for some drink-early wines.

Which doesn’t sound too bad does it? You can never drink wine too early can you? Or is that my uneducated palate talking?

Early harvesting young grapes, another downside to excessive heat in wine regions, have already been reported to be happening in New Zealand. Which is due to the excessive heat that is being moving through from Australia to the central parts of the North Island.

Either way, the heat adds to the pressures of an already unstable wine industry. Irrigation problems, severe weather patterns, such as cold snaps and heatwaves, human error and even a weakened Australian dollar just before harvesting of the grapes, make for a stressful time for the winemakers of this country.

I am hoping though, that this time around as in the past, the grapes will survive and once again prove that nature will find a way to protect these mere morsels of delight. Also, hopefully, we will be drinking this years harvest in the not too distant future.

As for the human race, survival doesn’t seem to be in our nature. We seem destined to burn all of our bridges (or atmosphere) at once…
Who knows? Perhaps, with an affinity to survive, the humble grape may just outlive us all…

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