How will climate change affect the viticulture in the coming decades in Europe?

Conclusions from the Decadal Projections Performance Report

Facing climate change and climate variability is one of the main challenges in viticulture. Developing strategic actions to adapt viticulture to the impacts of a warmer climate is one of the main interests of the sector, which has been suffering for changes in the quality and yield.

A report has recently been published by VISCA project Decadal projection performance report (D2.5) which provides a set of regional climate projections at European scale and at demosites of the project (Campania region, Mirabella Eclano Estate (Mastroberardino-Italy), Costers del Segre region, Raimat hills (Codorniu- Spain),  Douro Valley, Porto (Symington-Portugal)). These projections would bring an added value for the wine industry to plan long-term adaptation strategies to face climate change and a new climate variability in the coming decades.

First of all, EURO-CORDEX climate projections have been analysed in terms of their ability to reproduce the historical climate. As a result, it has been confirmed that EURO-CORDEX is representing correctly the temporal and spatial correlation of the main interesting variables such as mean temperature and precipitation, climate extremes such as droughts, spring frosts and heatwaves and, finally, specific agronomical parameters such the Winkler index.

After that, the analysis of climate projections at European scale and at demosites is providing by comparing the climatology off the period 2070-2099 against the historical period 1976-2005. In terms of precipitation, a decrease in the southern European countries, which is more intense in the summer months. In terms of temperature, there is a clear increase throughout Europe, although it is more intense in southern countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and in norther countries like Sweden and Finland. Regarding extreme events, there is an increase of the length of droughts, especially in the Iberian Peninsula, a decrease of frost days in spring months and an increase of heatwaves, especially in the southern European countries.

When looking at Winkler index, a shift of the suitable regions for vine growing to norther latitudes is clearly identified due to an increase of temperatures. While in period 1976-2005, the suitability of grape growing is mainly located in southern Europe countries like Spain, Portugal, south France, southern Germany, Italy, Greece and Northern Africa, in 2070-2099 the suitable areas are extended to central Europe and even northern Europe under an a Business as Usual emission scenarios such as RCP8.5 . South UK, north Germany, Denmark are expected to be new suitable areas even if the climate projections under an emission scenario considering mitigation actions such as RCP4.5 become true. Under RCP8.5, south Ireland, south Sweden and even south Finland could be suitable under Regions I and II of Winkler classification. Also, high altitude regions such as the Pyrenees and Alps can be suitable areas in the future.

When looking at demosites, Mastroberardino, Raïmat and Symington show a decrease of precipitation an increase of temperatures more intense during summer than in winter months.  In terms of extreme events, they show an increase of the length of droughts and heatwaves, while a decrease of frost days in spring months.

Figure. EURO-CORDEX Multi-model mean of the climatology of Winkler index of period 1976-2005 (left) and 2070-2099 under RCP8.5 (right). The dots in the bottom maps indicates the regions where a change in the Winkler region has happened

Read the full report ‘Decadal projection performance report (D2.5)’ on VISCA website.


This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730253.