Australia is one of the hottest and sunniest continents on the planet.
Our warm temperatures mean that by nature we grow grapes with a lot of sugar. In winemaking, the more sugar there is in a grape - the higher the alcohol content in the wine.
But climate change is taking this to extremes.
When I first started making wine we would ‘high five’ if we grew reds with enough sugar to make wine with 13 per cent alcohol. That same vineyard will now smash out reds with enough sugar to make wine 15 per cent alcohol and above!
This heightened level of alcohol can be quite problematic for winemakers. Not only does it create an imbalance with the intensity of flavour, but it may even feel like an irritant when you smell or drink the wine.
Higher levels of alcohol also mean export duty increases when we ship it abroad, making our wine more expensive in important markets such as the UK and USA.
High alcohol content is also at odds with the responsible serving of alcohol.
As winemakers, we pride ourselves on the production of authentic first-class wines. But as climate change continues to influence the nature of grapes, we are increasingly forced to consider technological solutions to bring balance and enhance the pleasure in drinking our wines.
Part of me is a huge fan of technology; but it is the most beautiful thing when wine is produced with low intervention and as a gift from nature.
It may seem like a small impact from climate change but winemaking is an important part of Australian culture.
Unless we continue to act on climate change, we risk losing Australia’s world-leading edge, and the authenticity of our winemaking forever.
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