WINEMAKERS may have to use less popular grape varieties to adapt to climate change, a study has claimed.

Vineyards might be able to counteract some of the effects of climate change by changing varieties but drinkers need to be more adventurous when choosing their next tipple.

However, scientists and vintners still do not know which variety of grapes are best suited to adapt to different climates.

Loading article content

Assistant Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, Elizabeth Wolkovich, said: “It’s going to be very hard, given the amount of warming we’ve already committed to, for many regions to continue growing the exact varieties they’ve grown in the past.

“But what we’re interested in talking about is how much more diversity of grape varieties do we have, and could we potentially be using that diversity to adapt to climate change?

“The Old World has a huge diversity of wine grapes – there are over 1,000 varieties planted – and some of them are better adapted to hotter climates and have higher drought tolerance than the 12 varieties now making up over 80 per cent of the wine market in many countries.

“We should be studying and exploring these varieties to prepare for climate change.”

But convincing winemakers to try different varieties is tough, often due to “terroir”, the idea that a wine’s flavour is a reflection of where and how the grapes were grown.

Only certain traditional or existing varieties are part of each terroir, leaving little room for change.