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Lack of Spanish participation lamented at Barcelona climate conference

Several hundred people have gathered in Barcelona, Spain to hear international wine and climate change experts discuss the implications of climate change for the wine industry.

But while Miguel Torres, Michel Rolland, former Cos d’Estournel owner Bruno Prats, Stag’s Leap owner Warren Winiarski and – in a video link-up from the US – Vice President Al Gore will be speaking, organisers are dismayed over the lack of interest from Spain.

‘I thought enough people would be interested in this topic – especially from within the Spanish wine industry,’ said conference organiser Pancho Campo. ‘Unfortunately their response was extremely poor.’

Campo added that although ‘not a day goes by’ when global warming is not mentioned in the press, the lack of participation from his fellow citizens is still disappointing.

‘The Catalunyan government has been very supportive, but only 5% of attendees are Spanish. I’m thrilled that Miguel Torres is here – he’s a real pioneer. But he’s the only Spanish winemaker. I find it incredible that we have nobody from Ribera del Duero, nobody from Rioja.’

Internationally-recognised climate experts such as Dr Hans Schultz, Professor of Viticulture in the Geisenheim Research Institute in Germany, Dr Greg Jones, Professor of Climatology at the University of Southern Oregon in the USA, Australian viticulturalist Richard Smart and French wine and climatologist Bernard Seguin are also on the agenda.

First held in 2006, the second wine and climate change conference features a packed roster of speakers from across all sectors of the wine industry.

Consultants Jacques Lurton, Pascal Chatonnet and Stephen Skelton MW as well as winemakers (and former Decanter Men of the Year) Miguel Torres and Ernst Loosen will also speak.

‘At our first event two years ago, we had 75 people in the audience,’ said Pancho Campo. ‘This year we have 350 from 36 countries, from Japan to Vancouver and everywhere in between.’

Among those in the audience are representatives from both the commercial and production sides of such companies as the Taylor Fladgate Partnership, Constellation and Amorim.

Topics will range from the impact of climate change on viticulture and winemaking, to the industry’s own responsibilities with respect to management of resources such as water and land.

‘There’s still a tremendous amount of confusion within the industry – not to mention the population at large – regarding what climate change means, and denial about whether it exists at all,’ said Campo.

‘But those of us in the wine industry – which is after all an agricultural activity, and therefore very vulnerable – have a great opportunity to take the lead.’

Written by Maggie Rosen in Barcelona

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