Map shows extreme weather threats facing wine regions

28.04.2017 998 views
Researchers reveal how global warming will change what we drink (and could make England and Canada major producers).
  • Researchers investigated how 7,500 regions in 131 countries are affected
  • Two wine regions in Argentina are exposed to the highest risk worldwide
  • Events such as frost, hail, forest fires, earthquakes, drought and floods make the worldwide wine industry lose more than $10 billion every year
  • Climate change will affect the wine industry, with a shift of wine-growing regions southward and northward, and some regions close to the equator lost

Every year, the worldwide wine industry suffers losses of more than $10 billion due to extreme weather events and natural disasters such as frost, hail, drought and forest fires.

Scientists investigated the extent to which 7,500 wine regions in 131 countries are affected by these events and how climate change affects the wine industry.

They've release a global risk index map for wine regions, and found that the wine regions of Mendoza and San Juan in Argentina are exposed to the highest risks worldwide.

Map showing a global risk index for wine regions. The wine regions of Mendoza and San Juan in Argentina are exposed to the highest risks worldwide

A multidisciplinary European-Australian team of researchers led by Dr James Daniell of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) conducted the study and presented their global risk index map for wine regions at the 2017 Annual Conference of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna.

Early results of their study reveal that after Mendoza and San Juan in Argentina, the wine regions at highest risk due to extreme weather events are  Kakheti and Racha in Georgia, followed by Southern Cahul in Moldova (number 3), Northwest Slovenia (number 4), and Yaruqui in Ecuador and Nagano in Japan (number 5).

The hail losses from 2012 to 2016 in some vineyards totaled 50 to 90 per cent of the value of the crop and caused long-term damage to many old vines

According to the researchers, there is no wine region in the world that is not exposed to extreme weather or natural disasters.

Events such as frost, hail, forest fires and earthquakes make the worldwide wine industry lose more than $10 billion every year according to conservative estimations.

'Cold waves and frost have a large impact,' said Dr Daniell.

He said that hailstorms are one of the largest yearly natural threats to European winemakers, and traditional wine countries like France and Italy have seen huge losses in the past five years due to hail and frost, with many losses being recorded in the regions of Burgundy and Piedmont.

Traditional wine countries like France and Italy have seen huge losses in the past five years due to hail and frost, with many losses being recorded in the regions of Burgundy and Piedmont
While frost is considered harmful to wine grapes, a type of wine called 'ice wine' relies on frozen grapes to achieve its sweet flavor. Pictured are red grapes covered by frost in Moravia, Czech Republic 

The hail losses from 2012 to 2016 in some vineyards totaled 50 to 90 per cent of the value of the crop and caused long-term damage to many old vines.

But it's not just Europe that is affected by hail - all over the world, wine-growing regions are affected by at least one hail event per year.

According to Dr Daniell, hail nets can save the crops in most cases.

'Cost-benefit analyses generally show that the premium wines should be the ones covered by hail nets, with insurance or other cheaper methods used for other wines,' he said.

Earthquakes too can have a major impact and knock out the infrastructure of entire wine regions.

The top five wine countries/states at risk of earthquakes are: California, Chile, Japan, Turkey, and Greece and Albania 

For example, over 125 million liters of wine were lost in Chile in 2010, mainly due to the failure of steel tanks.

'Earthquake-resistant design could have saved many millions of liters,' Dr Daniell said.

A few dollars investment in stabilization mechanisms such as quake wax, which is used to non-permanently stick down small objects to down objects to prevent them from falling during an earthquake, can often save millions of dollars worth of losses.

The top five broad wine regions affected by bushfires are: South Africa (Orange River, Olifants River), Portugal (Alentejo, Alto Tras-os-Montes), Chile (Valparaiso, Bio-Bio). Australia (Tumbarumba, Yarra Valley), and Kazakhstan (South) and Moldova

Climate change will also have both positive and negative effects on wine industry, according to the study.

Researchers expect a shift of wine-growing regions southward and northward, while some regions close to the equator may be lost.

'The English, Canadian, and Northern China wine regions will likely increase production markedly and continue to improve their market share and quality of production,' said Dr Daniell.

The researchers expect that many wineries will master climate changes by changing grape varieties and using innovative technologies to improve production and reduce damage due to pathogens and extreme weather events.

Map showing grape wine production in liters per year. The countries that product the largest volumes of wine  include France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, the US, Chile, China and Australia 


The top 5 biggest wine producers and their main threats:

  1. Italy - 4.9 billion liters - hail, frost and earthquake (although volcano, flash flood, flood and climatic effects also can play a role).
  2. France - 4.2 billion liters - Frost, hail, storm
  3. Spain – 3.8 billion liters – NW Hail, Frost, Heat
  4. United States – 2.25 billion liters (2016, OIV) – Frost, Earthquake, Storm
  5. Australia – 1.25 billion liters – Frost, Storm, Hail, Bushfire

The researchers also studied other risks facing the wine industry, such as bushfires, which cause smoke to taint vines, and they're exploring the effects of floods too.

The top five broad wine regions affected by bushfires are: South Africa (Orange River, Olifants River), Portugal (Alentejo, Alto Tras-os-Montes), Chile (Valparaiso, Bio-Bio). Australia (Tumbarumba, Yarra Valley), and Kazakhstan (South) and Moldova.

They said that the major volcanic eruption would likely cause the largest global impact to the wine industry.

'Through detailed natural hazard analysis, research can help winemakers and governments alike to prepare adequately for the natural hazards that they face and to reduce losses,' Dr Daniell said.

Source -


Spain - 30% of La Palma's banana production has already been lost due to the advance of the lava

More than three weeks after the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted, the lava that continues to flow from its interior continues to devastate everything in its path, destroying houses, infrastructure, and banana plantations. The production of Platanos de Canarias is the economic engine of the island, accounting for 50% of its GDP and 30% of the jobs on the island.


Europe - Around 66,000 ha damaged - 23 million euros in damages

While Vereinigte Hagelversicherung VVaG reported 30,000 hectares damaged just a few days ago, this figure has more than doubled within a few days. A good 66,000 hectares were registered for regulation from June 18 to 25. This is due to so-called supercells, which came from France through Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria to Austria and the Czech Republic, causing hailstorms over a length of several hundred kilometers. Local heavy rainfall with enormous amounts of rain from so-called "water bombs" and hailstones the size of tennis balls caused damage to almost all crops, often with total losses. On June 22 and again on June 24, the damage area stretched from Lake Starnberg via Munich to Passau. In Baden-Württemberg, the Neckar-Alb region was hardest hit on June 21 and, just two days later, the strip from Freiburg via Reutlingen to Esslingen. A locally intense area of damage extended along the North Sea coast in the Groningen-Norden-Aurich triangle on both the Dutch and German sides of the border. In addition, abroad, the polder areas on the IJsselmeer and the Baltic region were particularly affected. After the first surveys, Vereinigte Hagel now expects damage of about 20 to 23 million euros, a doubling compared to the beginning of last week. Supercells and what they are about - currently no end in sight The background to the now considerably higher damage figures are so-called supercells, which have a much higher damage potential than ordinary thunderstorms due to their rotation and longevity. "Their most important feature is the so-called "mesocyclone," a powerful rotating updraft. It creates a negative pressure on the ground so that, like a vacuum cleaner, warm and energetic air can be constantly sucked in at the ground and reach the upper edge of the troposphere (above 10 km altitude). There the warm air is sucked in and there is also the danger of possible tornadoes. Subsequently, in the area of the sinking cold air, it is not uncommon for extreme downbursts to reach the hurricane range. Over time, supercells develop a momentum of their own that prevents the sinking cold air (as compensation for the rising warm air) from entering the warm air area. Thus, the mesocyclone is fed with warm air for several hours. Due to the longevity and massive power of the rotating updraft, hailstones can be flung into the air several times, growing into large hailstones. From Monday through Thursday, conditions in southern Germany were ideal for these rotating monsters. A warm and humid air mass was stored in the lower atmosphere, so to speak the fuel for the engine of the rotating mesocyclones. In addition, the wind near the ground came from an easterly to northeasterly direction (which favored suction), veered nearly 180° to the southwest up to an altitude of about 5 kilometers, and increased significantly. In short, there was sufficient directional and velocity shear. This is a basic requirement for the formation of rotation in the updraft region and helps to prevent the sinking cold air from reaching the front of the thunderstorm cell." And it's set to continue. The DWD forecasts heavy thunderstorms in the south and southwest of Germany on Monday evening, as well as on Tuesday. Experts prepared for this, because in June or July such weather phenomena are not uncommon, as Vereinigte Hagel knows from almost 200 years of experience. Source -


China - Farms suffered from hailstorms

Hailstorms suddenly arrived in east China on 4 April to 5 April. Production areas in Pingdu, Laizhou, and Laiyang in Shandong suffered heavy damage. The hailstones damaged cherry trees, pear trees, peach trees, and apple trees. The cherry and peach trees in particular are in the middle of the flowering season, while apples are ripening on the trees. Some of the flowers have already begun to open in some of the warmer production areas. The impact of these hailstorms was disastrous for the upcoming production volume of cherries and peaches. The overall production volume will be greatly reduced and some farmers may have lost their entire harvest. Source -


Ukraine - Losses in stone fruit and berry crops due to low temperatures

The freezing temperatures recently recorded in Ukraine could lead to the loss of up to 80% of the stone fruit production and up to 50% of the berry crops, said Kateryna Zvereva, Director for Development of the Ukrainian Fruit and Vegetable Association (UPAA). “Apricot and other stone fruit crops (peaches, sweet cherries and even some plum varieties) bloomed earlier than usual due to the high temperatures in March. However, night frosts that were fatal to stone fruit crops were recorded in late March, and the vast majority of growers in Ukraine don't yet have modern frost protection systems. Moreover, the cold weather during the flowering prevented the bees from pollinating the gardens," she said in a statement to Interfax-Ukraine. As for berries, the UPOA this week received several messages from Ukrainian blueberry producers, concerned about the serious damage caused by the lower air temperatures at the end of last month. “Due to the abnormally warm winter and significantly high temperatures in March, blueberries in many regions of Ukraine had almost started to bloom; however, frosts struck earlier this week. The situation worsened because frosts returned again after a short warm period,” said Zvereva. According to UPAA research, Chandler blueberries were the most affected, with potential crop losses estimated at more than 50% in some regions. The Duke variety, which is one of the most popular among domestic growers, was also significantly affected. “Losses in stone fruits could reach 80% of the potential production; in berries, perhaps 50%,” said the director for development of the UPOA. Source -


Italy - Heavy storms hit south-east Sicily

"There are no roads and we do not even know how to reach our land. Both the structures and crops have been damaged. The water is not draining, so things are bad," explains Enzo Denaro, from a production and commercialization company in Ispica, following the storms on 25th and 26th October. "The strength of the water even dragged away the electricity pylons. Rivers and canals have not been cleaned, so the water could not flow properly - bills, including that from the land reclamation consortium, do come in punctually though. The neglected land is indeed a problem, though we must say the weather event that hit the area between Ispica (RG) and Rosolini (SR) was the strongest we have had in years." "I lost 30% of my production and believe at least a third of the local crops was damaged - carrots and artichokes in particular. The hail also damaged greenhouses and polytunnels." It will only be possible to assess the real damage over the next few days and weeks. A huge sinkhole occurred in Ispica and the roads and houses must be secured. What is more, the primary and secondary road network must also be reinstated and of course, logistics will be heavily affected. Above: Enzo Denaro in a zucchini polytunnel, archive photo. Plants did not have the time to produce as they should. "We are expecting water to drain so we can salvage what we can and carry out new transplants where possible so as to mitigate our losses. I hope none of the authorities come to visit, as they should take care of the territory throughout the year, not just show their faces for political advantage." Source -


Floods and storms in Spain and southern France affected some crops

This week’s weather around the Mediterranean caused a lot of damage in the south of France; the French government has declared a state of natural disaster. In Béziers, 6 gallons per square feet fell in 24h. Other municipalities in France and in Spain were also severely affected. The episode inevitably has consequences for the fruit and vegetable sector. “We have not drawn up a report yet, but several crops have been affected in France and in Spain,” reports Charles Farran de Ritex, wholesaler based in Perpignan. “In France, it is the season of autumn and winter vegetables like artichokes and lettuce. For those products, water is not necessarily a bad thing, and we hope that there won’t be too much damage. The apple and pear orchards are probably also affected. Other products like the tomatoes are grown in greenhouses so they will not be directly impacted. However, several greenhouses have been destroyed by the storm in the region of Nîmes and Avignon.” In Spain, the Mediterranean episode also had some impact. “Grapes were severely affected by the water,” explains Charles, who imports a lot of his products from Spain. Nearly 108,000 square feet of greenhouses blown away As he was about to pick his lettuce, Eric Vidal saw a small tornado, on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday, blow away 108,000 square feet of his farm located at the heart of the Jardins Saint Jacques. He reported to the newspaper L’Indépendant that “everything is ruined, both the facilities and all the lettuce of course, which is mostly produced for fast food restaurants. We were supposed to harvest in 10 days, it’s a dry loss. Luckily, I have insurance.” The cause of the damage is a devastating blast limited to one corridor. Other more minor damage has been reported in the same area. “When I arrived at the greenhouses, I understood right away that something had happened. The greenhouses in the back were completely crushed. It was like a bull ran through, destroying everything. The surprising thing is that the other facilities, right next to them, were not affected at all,” explains Eric. The farm had already suffered from a similar situation in January 2009 with storm Klaus. “After the expert’s report, we will have to disassemble, clean and rebuild everything. We won’t get any lettuce until next summer.” The farm is likely to lay off part of its staff temporarily. Source -


USA - Thieves steal 7,000 pounds of apples from Spicer Orchards

Thousands of apples vanished from Spicer Orchard. It's a bizarre crime that's left the owners wondering who did it. Trees at a Fenton Township orchard should be filled with apples waiting to be harvested. Instead, they are bare. Sometime between late Sunday night and Wednesday morning, thieves stripped hundreds of trees of their bounty, leaving only a handful of fruit high up on the branches. "Basically, I was pretty upset about it, because it takes a whole year to grow apples," said Spicer Orchard Harvest Manager Matt Spicer. "And losing something like that, that was our up and coming varieties. Evercrisp is one of our new ones out and was kind of excited to share that with people." The crooks not only picked ripe apples, they took ones not ready for harvest and even ones on the ground. Spicer estimates about 7,000 pounds of fruit -- about 22,000 apples -- were loaded onto trucks and carted off. Nearby neighbors didn't hear a thing. "I don't look out my window this way and they didn't come down the driveway, so I wouldn't have heard anything," said next door neighbor Mike Conway. "It's behind the barn. I'm sure they used the barn for cover." While insurance can cover crop losses due to weather, it won't cover theft and the estimated $14,000 loss. However, this loss will have a ripple effect across the family run business. "Whomever took those apples, six families count on the income from this farm. And losing any of it, always, it will hurt somebody," Spicer said. Plans are to increase security measures to help prevent another incident in the future. "We already kind of planned on fencing it off, which would give us gates to close and things like that to hopefully help us out, and more cameras obviously," Spicer said. Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call the Genesee County Sheriff's Office. Source -


Italy - Hailstorm destroys apple orchards in the province of Ferrara

A devastating out-of-season hailstorm hit the province of Ferrara, destroying apple crops and damaging plants, with impacts that will be still be felt next year. The event occurred on October 3, 2019. "A heavy hailstorm hit Consandolo Argenta and Gualdo," technician Alessandro Passerini explained, "with damages to apple orchards in harvest time that had no protective nets. And that's not all: I've heard of an anti-hail system in Consandolo that collapsed under the weight of the ice, with great damages to Pink Lady apples". The hailstones were as big as a walnut, followed by gusts of wind and floods. "According to Confagricoltura, the heavy out-of-season hailstorm hit the strip of land that goes from Cona to Gaibana, crossing Voghiera. The pear orchards were affected too, causing injury to young buds. It's unusual to expect a hailstorm at this time of year. Coldiretti Ferrara also spoke about the event: "This year the territory of Ferrara recorded parasite attacks, such as the Asian bug, and fungus attacks such as the Alternaria, to name just a few episodes that knocked down especially the fruit cultivation. The violent downpour and the large-diameter hailstones did nothing but worsen the situation for other fruit orchards, including Golden and Fuji apples". Source -

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