Climate and Viticulture
The global wine-producing industry is highly sensitive to variations in weather and climate, which can significantly affect both quantity and quality of the wine. It is also an important economic activity in many developing parts of the world, resulting in significant exports of high quality wine. The wine-climate research conducted in the Geography Department aims to improve knowledge of the climate processes that affect the main wine-producing areas of New Zealand and other countries through collaboration with an international research group (led by French colleagues) working in some of the main vineyard areas of the world (e.g. France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, South Africa, and the US). Collaboration of our research group with french researchers started in 2011 via a project led by Dr Hervé Quénol (CNRS, University of Rennes, France), which was followed by the ‘Development of advanced weather and climate modelling tools to help vineyard regions adapt to climate change’ project led by Professor Sturman and funded by the Ministry of Primary Industries in New Zealand (2013-15) This project involved researchers from CNRS and University of Rennes (France), Plant and Food Research (Blenheim and Lincoln), NIWA and the atmospheric research group in the Geography Department (see wine-climate web site). The international collaboration is continuing via the five-year LIFE-ADVICLIM project (2014-2019) tha includes researchers from several European countries. The research programme involves application of climate monitoring and modelling at very local scales in different vineyard regions of the world in order to provide advice and software tools to help vineyard owners adapt to existing and future climate variability in order to ensure the long term sustainability of the industry.
In New Zealand, we initially selected two case study areas for intensive analysis – Marlborough and Waipara, while the research has involved four main components:
- A statistical analysis of climate variability in the main New Zealand wine-producing areas using existing data to evaluate the significance of periodic variations, random events and longer term trends.
- Application of advanced 3-D atmospheric modelling techniques to provide a high resolution (~1 km) assessment of spatial and temporal climate variability in the two case study areas. Meteorological data (temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and direction) from a high resolution climate monitoring network installed in the Marlborough region has been used to validate model results. The model results is being used to identify areas of particular risk in the context of climate variability (e.g. marginally located grape varieties and frost effects).
- Application of a combination of Geographic Information System (GIS) and geo-statistical techniques to downscale the climate model results to vineyard scale (~50 m) to evaluate the effects of such factors as soil, land use and topography on small scale climate variability, also incorporating the meteorological data collected in the two areas.
- The impacts of possible future climate change on the long term viability of vineyards and specific vine varieties in these areas are also being assessed, based on the IPCC scenarios for the rest of this century.