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Joan Gómez Pallarès http://www.devinis.org/

Global Warming and Torres

Climate change forcing migration north

Increasingly hostile conditions associated with climate change are forcing vintners to head north, according to an internal memo from one of Spain’s largest wine producers.

Heat and drought have prompted an ‘immediate change’ in the Torres wine company of northeast Spain – specifically the search for land in the cooler regions to the north.

So starts an article in Decanter that I wanted to point out to everyone. A while ago I posted a couple of notes on the first [conference on wine->http://catavino.net/archives/326/2006/03/28/] and [global warming->http://catavino.net/archives/216/2005/11/22/] that took place in Barcelona this year. Global warming some of you may say this is really not that big of a deal yet, but here in Spain people take it very serious. The most dire predictions call for up to half of Spain to be transformed into desert in the next 10-20 years, while others just point out the [lack of water->http://www.euroresidentes.com/Blogs/2004/11/consequences-of-climate-change-in.htm] that will be availble in the coming years. This dry desolate future isn’t that far away if you just get into your car and drive south of Madrid. Instead of the lush and green vegetation that used to span across the country, you encounter ragged scrub, sandy expanses and loads of stark nothingness.

Talking to winemakers here has been quite interesting as they talk about vintages consistently being warmer and warmer with higher sugar levels in the grapes. While some typically cooler climate regions welcome this change, where in the past it has been difficult to ripen fruit, others are starting to wonder what their future will hold. If you take the Torres article at face value, it seems that wise winemakers with money might be looking to new vineyards and regions to grow their grapes sooner than later. On the other hand, if this warming trend continues, many small farmers with property which has been in the family for generations may be forced to plant new varieties of grapes or abandon their vineyards altogether. Consequently, either option will cost a fortune for the winemaker.

Stay tuned as Catavino continues to cover this important issue.

Ryan Opaz

[BBC article on Rising temperatures in Spain->http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3929507.stm]
[Article on various aspects of Spain's Climate->http://www.iberianature.com/material/iberiaclimatechange.html#iberia_climate_change]