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Global Warming Could Sour Wine Industry

Wine glass and bottle. (Image credit: Morguefile.com)

With the global climate heating up, wine drinkers may soon be saying "cheers" with a little less enthusiasm.

Extreme temperature swings predicted by climate change models could reduce growing areas in the United States for premium wine grapes and hurt an important source of commerce, reports a new study in this week's journal for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Using historical climate data and a model that forecasts human-driven climate change, researchers looked at growing scenarios throughout the country.

The scientists found that when the simulation included the effects of extreme weather, especially the hotter temperatures expected, about 81 percent of all U.S. grape wine growing areas and almost 50 percent of the areas that produce the highest quality of the grapes are lost.

Actual effects of heat on vineyards have been documented before.

According to a 2003 article in the online site Food & Drink Europe, Spanish wine production was lowered by more than 79 million gallons in an intense heat wave that struck Europe in 2003. Italy and Germany also had reduced wine production that year.

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Sara Goudarzi
Sara Goudarzi is a Brooklyn writer and poet and covers all that piques her curiosity, from cosmology to climate change to the intersection of art and science. Sara holds an M.A. from New York University, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, and an M.S. from Rutgers University. She teaches writing at NYU and is at work on a first novel in which literature is garnished with science.