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Hunter Valley could be forced to seek new varieties

Climate change could force Australia’s Hunter Valley to plant alternative grape varieties to combat rising temperatures, spring frosts and a higher risk of disease, according to a new study.

Grape growers may have to explore new locations for vineyards and change their layouts to counter the risk of more extreme weather events, said the report of the two-year-long Hunter Valley Wine Industry Climate Change Case Study.

The report, commissioned by a consortium of local councils, studied past and current weather patterns, pinpointing a number of potential future risks, including:

  • The potential for more extreme ‘heat spikes’, affecting fruit quality and character;
  • Increased winter temperatures, increasing the risk of pests and diseases;
  • Higher risk of spring frosts, leading to crop loss and vine damage;
  • A general increase in temperatures, shortening the growing season and leading to crop losses and changes to fruit quality.

    Alternative grape varieties, changes to vine management practices and the careful site selection and design of new vineyards were all measures which could combat these risks, the report said.

    And it called on the wine industry to continue to implement current best practices, also educating new and existing grape growers and viticulturists on their importance.

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    Written by Richard Woodard

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