An article by Marcela Valente in Argentina’s famed Mendoza wine country says that wine producers in the region are taking note of the effect of rising temperatures on grapes, based on a report produced by Price Waterhouse Coopers in 2009.

According to the report, in the South American wine-producing region that stretches across both sides of the Andes mountain range, the minimum temperature in 2050 will be one degree higher than today, while precipitation will continue decreasing, based on the A2 and B2 scenarios developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

As a result, most of the region’s rivers will have reduced flows, which will lead to a greater need for irrigation than at present, and there could be stronger winds in some areas.

Each variety of grape is best suited to certain climate areas, such as the case of the Malbec variety in the Cuyo region.

“There are indications that . . . changes are taking place in temperatures as well as rainfall patterns, and this could affect the quality of wines,” says Mendoza-based agronomist Martín Cavagnaro.

With an annual production of 16.3 hectolitres, Argentina is the world’s fifth largest wine producer, ranks ninth in terms of the surface area of vineyards, and eighth in the volume of grapes produced.

The interest in climate change being expressed by winemakers is partly because of new opportunities that may be driven by changes in temperature.

“We know that there are varieties which formerly did not adapt to the climate and which now, with the increase in temperature, could produce good yields, which is why we believe that the viniculture frontier could be expanded,” explained Cavagnaro.

ACT is currently developing its fifth report, on Climate Change Adaptation and Food Supply, which will include a look at similar issues for Canadian ice wine producers. The report is due out in April 2012. ACT’s recently released report, Climate Change Adaptation and Water Governance, which reports on developments in the Okanagan, one of Canada’s most prolific wine producing areas, is available here.