Wine producers in the New South Wales central west are being forced to adapt to rising temperatures which are affecting the region’s “cool climate” drops.
Producers at Orange said they were experiencing warmer weather, with daytime maximums up two degrees on average as a result of climate change.
Local vigneron Justin Jarrett agreed climate change was having a noticeable effect on the quality of the region’s wines.
“It’s been a gradual change but actually when you look back over 20 years, they actually are severe changes,” Mr Jarrett said.
He said the warmer summer nights altered the way the vines grew.
“When you ripen quickly you end up getting higher alcohol wines and we don’t want that.”
Fellow vigneron James Sweetapple said he also noticed the change in climate.
“We’re seeing more extremes from time to time,” Mr Sweetapple said.
“I can’t find exact rhyme or reason for it but we’re having bigger wet years and drier dry years.”
Mr Sweetapple’s vineyard has no irrigation and he has adopted holistic farming techniques to drought-proof his vines.
Growers say Orange may have edge in the future
The area is renowned for its cool climate wines, compared to other regions such as the NSW Hunter Valley and Barossa in South Australia.
Mr Jarrett said he was confident Orange would have an advantage over other areas in the future.
“I know my friends from South Australia will not appreciate what I’m about to say,” he said.
“You need to be in significant cool climate areas that have reasonably high rainfall and can grow fruit naturally without any interference at all.”
The region’s tourism body, Brand Orange, said there could be new opportunities for vignerons.
“There would have to be a fairly significant change in climate for that to really prompt a change in how we market the region,” said Brand Orange’s marketing manager Charlotte Gundry.
“Whilst it could be a significant detriment to the region, there are also opportunities to work with brands to show that they are doing their best in trying circumstances.”