Too much heat during summer is robbing the grapes of its sugar, aroma and colour.
Climate change, which could transform the Iberian Peninsula into a semi-desert, is forcing winemakers in Spain to consider moving their vines to higher ground to escape the blistering heat.
Spain has more acres of vineyard than any other country in the world and is in the frontline of climate change. The country is already the driest in Europe and is threatened with “Africanisation” of its climate. Up to one third of its territory risks “severe” desertification, according to the environment ministry.
The big wineries and the Spanish Wine Federation are looking into a project, called Demeter, aimed at “gathering the knowledge necessary to face the challenge of climate change”.
Although vines love the sun, too much heat is harmful to the proper ripening of the grapes.
The Demeter project is aimed at looking into winemaking practices that delay maturation. One possible solution they are exploring is altitude. At a higher level, vines suffer less from the heat and the nights are cooler, which allow the grapes to ripen better.