Chardonnay out, fiano in.  How the climate is changing everything, including the wine you might soon be drinking

Chardonnay out, fiano in. How the climate is changing everything, including the wine you might soon be drinking

As raging bushfires ravaged Queensland’s Granite Belt in 2019, Mike Hayes could do little but watch the crops of his beloved vineyards be destroyed by smoke.

The smoky taste is disastrous for a vintage if it’s not immediately obvious, he explains: “Once you bottle it, about eight months later, it tastes like an ashtray.”

The winemaker from the southern Queensland region bordering New South Wales has worked in vineyards all his life.

In just three years since the bushfires, it has also experienced drought and flooding, not to mention wild storms and extreme temperatures. It’s what he calls “explosive weather conditions”.

A fire engine parked on the road next to a bushfire at night in Stanthorpe.
Smoke from the Granite Belt fires in September 2019 tainted much of the region’s vineyards.(ABC News: Stephen Cavenagh)

“I remember during the drought I would walk to work and not even look at the bush,” Mr Hayes said.

“It was hard to accept the fact that you just saw all the bush dying around you.”

While natural disasters can wreak havoc, Mr Hayes said the longer-term effects of climate change – delayed frosts, hotter summer nights and wilder, more frequent storms – had the biggest impact.

Tired of seeing his work suffer, he takes action. And he says it’s time people across regional Australia did too.

“I strongly believe that we need to change as farmers,” he says.

“All the old farming practices that were pretty common and passed down for 100 years, they will have to change.”

Now a consultant for several wineries in the region, Mr. Hayes is exploring new ways to grow grapes, as well as testing to determine the most resilient varieties to deal with climate change.

A photograph of a heavy thunderstorm over a wheat field with lightning in the distance.
Each storm season brings damaging bursts of wild weather to parts of Queensland.(ABC My Photo Contributor @arolla4362)

This includes switching from French varieties to some Italian vines with buds that flower outside of the spring-summer stormy season.

“We’re looking at all these varieties that are coming in now – the wonderful Italian varieties like fiano, which is very similar to chardonnay and comes from central Italy, vermentino which is an Italian version of sauvignon blanc, montepulciano, it’s a little merlot – like, he says.

“So it’s not like we completely lose styles, we just change our goalposts.”

Mr Hayes said the traditional way of planting vines – with a north-east aspect – was also changing, with farmers opting for south-facing slopes to better cope with the “scorching sun”.

Climate change can impact all sectors

According to climate change experts, this type of adaptation is the key to building resilience.

Lauren Rickards is Co-Head of the Climate Change Transformations Research Program at RMIT University, Melbourne.

She said climate change had the ability to impact all sectors of Australia’s regional economies and communities, from agriculture and tourism to health and population size.

#Chardonnay #fiano #climate #changing #including #wine #drinking

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *