How Premier Wine Regions Are Adapting to Climate Change
Two years ago, Boris Champy left his role as estate manager for Clos des Lambrays, an esteemed Grand Cru in Burgundy’s Morey-Saint-Denis village of Côte de Nuits, to take an entrepreneurial turn in the hills above the town of Beaune.
Six-hundred feet above the center of Burgundy, Champy knew he could grow vines in Hautes-Côtes, an area that may not have the prestige of Côte de Nuits, but is cooler, giving him an edge as the climate changes and Burgundy warms.
As with most agricultural crops, vineyards around the world are experiencing the effects of climate change right now. In Burgundy—home to revered, collectible wines such as Domaine de la Romanée Conti, Domaine Leflaive, and Comte Georges de Vogüé —heat waves, drought, and frost in the past few years have caused some top estates to cut back on volume, giving Champy’s wines—from a less renowned region—a chance to get attention.
“I hope consumers buy my wines because they like them, because the wines are good, but I also know the supply in Burgundy is very short and the supply is short because of climate change,” Champy says.
Producers globally are working to ensure the quality of their wines as climate change sparks shifts in rainfall levels, temperature, and harvest dates. In premier wine regions of the world—Burgundy, Champagne, and Bordeaux in France; Tuscany and Piedmont in Italy; Napa Valley in California—reputations, and the big sums these wines can command, are at stake.
But there is no singular solution.
Winemakers such as Champy are moving to higher ground, but he is also growing Gamay and Aligoté—varieties that are sanctioned within Burgundy, but are far less common. Experimenting with grape varieties that could potentially thrive in warmer climates while producing comparatively great wine is a route some wine regions are taking to adapt .
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