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Climate Change Hits the Tuscan Vinyards

We have always trusted in nature to take care of us,” said Andrea Meini, the agronomist for the Cantine Leonardo da Vinci, a wine-growers cooperative in Italy’s Tuscany region.

“We’ve really only begun to notice the extremes in the last ten years,” Meini continued. “It’s not that any one year has been terrible but year on year we see that there are changes and that there is less water. For example 2012 was a really bad year.  This year, 2013 has been better but not by much.”

Meini is short, gray-haired and intense.  When pushed, he would talk.  But, unlike the other garrulous Italians with us who couldn’t seem to stop talking, Meini had to warm to it.  He preferred to look and listen and think long before he answered any of my questions.climate change wine

In October 2013, Meini, myself and several others were standing in a sloped vineyard of Sangiovese grapes just below the Casale di Valle, a refurbished 16th Century hill-top hunting lodge west of Florence.  The vines were tall and leafy and stuffed with grapes so tightly packed they cradled tiny sun-catching pools and drips of rain from the night before.

Everyone in the vineyard wore an apron and rubber gloves against the inevitable splatter of grape juice.  We each carried clippers and a bucket. Uphill sat a tractor. The driver collected what had been harvested and dumped it into the large container on the back of the machine.  We moved steadily up the rows of vines, one person on each side.

The ground was sticky and mud splattered on our ankles. Meini and I were keeping our eyes on a thunderhead growing east over the mountains towards Lucca.  I pointed to the clouds and he smiled.  “So far,” he said “2014 looks like it might be a good year.  Rain now is just what we need.”

“Growers here in Tuscany are worried because they don’t know what climate change means,” said Meini.“They get it.  They see it happening.  Some are even alarmed. But what to do about it that is the question.”

Climate Change and Viticulture

Antonio Busalacchi is head of the World Climate Research Program where he coordinates the international science research on climate change. He is also an advanced sommelier and certified wine educator.

In his recently presented paper The Impact of Climate Change on Global Viticulture Busalacchi’s research team looked at the impacts of climate change on twenty-four areas around the world; half in the “new world” and half in the “old world”.  His team found ….

Read the rest here at Vrai Magazine.



Jim O’Donnell was chosen as a DaVinci Wine Storyteller of the Year for 2013 and spent two weeks studying wine in Tuscany as a guest of the Cantine Leonardo DaVinci.

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