Monday Musings: Climate Changes in Douro Valley

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I was lucky enough to visit the Douro Valley last year to visit 15 wineries. I have written posts on about half those that I have visited and plan to write about the others over the coming months. It remains one of the greatest trips to a wine region I have taken. A breathtakingly beautiful place, I think about it often. I also think about climate change a lot especially since our recent debacle (in my view) known as our withdrawal from the Paris Agreement which 147 countries ratified and 197 are parties to the convention. Obviously climate change will have a big impact on all growing regions and the Douro Valley is one of them.

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From much of my reading, I have understood that there will be a northward shift of growing regions. This doesn’t bode well for some southern regions of Portugal but apparently might for the Douro thanks to considerable rain and elevations. Grapes will ripen earlier but as we know this could mean an inability to reach phenolic ripeness for some. It’s interesting to think what this means for the concept of terroir. As climate changes, terroir does too and therefore some traditional grape varieties will no longer be at home in their place of origin, I would imagine. I read a study which I will link to here, that discusses different scenarios.

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The study also lists different ways to adapt to climate change: “One way to adapt to climate change is to select grapevine varieties that best fit projected future climate conditions in a certain area. As short-term measures, they can adjust pruning times and training systems, apply leaf sunscreens (e.g. Kaolin, Bordeaux mixture) or vine shadings, implement controlled/deficit irrigation, cover cropping and tillage treatments. Numerous approaches could be used for long-term adaptations including improvements in rootstock and clonal selection, relocations to cooler areas, increasing soil depths and water holding capacities, and genetic breeding of new varieties.” I also found this paper which deals specifically with Portugal and the Douro Valley.

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A fascinating topic, I am only now scratching the surface of it really. I like to post about climate at least once a month, although this month was particularly disheartening. I found lots more sources to read and consider at this location.

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