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Experts warn weather phenomenon responsible for historic low in wine production could become 'new normal' — can the industry recover?

Global wine production in 2023 was lower than it has been since 1962.

Global wine production in 2023 was lower than it has been since 1962.

Photo Credit: iStock

Experts say weather events related to the heating of the planet are partly to blame for poor wine production and create the industry's biggest hurdle.

What's happening?

Global wine production in 2023 was lower than it has been since 1962, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), which represents 75% of the world's vineyard area, Euronews reported in April.

Wine production in the European Union was down 10%, marking the second-lowest output since 2000. Rain in spring caused flooding and mildew growth that hurt vineyards in some countries, while ongoing severe drought conditions hurt southern European operations.

Italy suffered the most, recording its lowest output since 1950. Spain reached a nadir it hadn't experienced since 1995.

"Experts have warned that regular droughts could become the 'new normal' across the Mediterranean by mid-century if we don't act on climate change immediately," Euronews reported.

OIV said the downturn was even worse than November estimates projected, per the news outlet.

Why does lower wine production matter?

Wine, of course, is a luxury. But vineyards are not the only growing operations affected by supercharged weather and our warming world.

Necessities such as corn and wheat are at risk, forcing growers to mine ancestral knowledge and look for new methods of production. Scientists, for example, are working on engineering rice, another globally significant source of calories, so it can survive rising seas.

And biotech giant Bayer developed short corn that can withstand strong winds without reducing crop yield. It was approved by the Department of Agriculture and awaits a thumbs up from the Environmental Protection Agency and importing countries.

These innovations and changing practices are essential since Earth is warming to the limit of what humans can handle. By the early 2030s, irrevocable changes will manifest unless there are drastic and immediate transformations of economies and energy systems, as The Washington Post reported last year.

What's being done about severe weather?

The transition away from the dirty energy sources that are causing the rapid heating of the planet and associated severe weather events has been slow. The oil and gas industry knew in 1954 that it was harming the environment but deceived the public to rake in profits. Governments, businesses, and the wealthy continue to pour money into unsustainable industries and practices, per The Post.

On the other hand, eco-conscious startups and other companies are working toward decarbonizing industries such as construction, transportation, and even fashion, while governments have set goals to limit pollution over the next generation, per BBC News.

Individuals can choose to drive an electric vehicle, swap their grass for a rewilded yard, and buy plastic-free products.

It's not too late to act.

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