Wine Lessons from Europe: Climate variability, change and vintage quality – Dr Jim Salinger

November 25, 2014

Dr Jim Salinger
Dr Jim Salinger
Australia and the south of France, Italy and Spain will be known for raisins rather than wine if climate warming trends continue over future decades, Otago University’s Dr Jim Salinger told a 30-strong Catalyst audience in Queenstown.
French champagne companies were already buying land in the UK as temperature graphs from 1950s to 2000s showed a definite upward trend in temperature in wine growing areas such as Champagne, Bordeaux, Hunter Valley and Northern California.
The internationally renowned Kiwi climate change scientist spent seven months in 2014 researching climate variability and wine quality at Italy’s leading food sustainability institution, IBIMET-CNR.

His research showed that contrasting climates and weather patterns throughout the growing season resulted in quite different rankings of vintage Bordeaux reds and Tuscany Chianti wines – and that European lessons are applicable to New Zealand, where widely diverse climatic patterns occur across our different wine growing districts.

Continuous weather measurements showed Queenstown had 20 fewer days of frost in 2008 than it did in 1931. Midrange predictions were that our average temperature would be 1% higher by 2040 and 2° by 2090, with stronger westerlies, bringing more rainfall.

This would mean a change in wine varieties that would best grow here, from the cooler range Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Riesling towards Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, he said. Some were saying our temperatures would more likely increase 4°, which would take us out of the range of Pinot Noir but let us grow Syrah, Malbec and Merlot wine grapes.

Dr Salinger is a leading international climate scientist on past and present climate trends, having studied climate change and variability in New Zealand and the South Pacific for over 35 years, linking climate trends with natural and anthropogenic causes.

Click here for a summary of Dr Jim Salinger’s presentation – Wine Lessons from Europe

November update


darwin-photohas two talks lined up so far for November and December – one on wine and weather, with renowned New Zealand weather expert Dr Jim Salinger (25 November), and the other an update on all that is happening in the Middle East with Otago University Professor Bill Harris in early December.

After that, CATALYST’s offerings are likely to thin as our volunteers, tertiary institutes and the government’s Centres of Research Excellence take some time off over summer. But this need not be the case….
CATALYST is all about bringing intellectual stimulation to the Wakatipu – providing locals and visitors with the opportunity for mental as well as adrenal challenge. We believe a lot of this could come from people who already live here and their visitors. Dr Salinger’s coming talk on climate change and vintage wine is a case in point.

SO – we would love to hear from you if you or your visitors would be happy to share expertise and knowledge about a topic that others might find fascinating, challenging, mind opening… all those good things. It will only take an hour or two …and provides the chance to meet and talk with other interesting and interested people! Any time you have an idea or opportunity, please go to our Get Involved page and get in touch with us.

And make sure you are on our ‘early warning system’ database so that you get alerted when such opportunities arise.

Here’s to thinking…