Concerns are beginning to grow as heat, and the creeping effects of climate change threaten New Zealand’s premier wine growing regions. National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research principal scientist Chris Brandolino said, “What we’ve seen over the past couple of years is a reflection of what’s to come in terms of evolving climate. It’s expected we’ll see more hot days across New Zealand. That includes the wine regions—Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough, Central Otago. We’re going to see more rainfall in the wet season and less in the dry season, so more rainfall when it’s not needed for the winegrower sand, less when it is needed.”
Considerable changes in the amounts of available water would change the flavour of New Zealand’s most exported wine variety, Sauvignon Blanc. Whereas other varieties may flourish in the changing conditions, “the characteristic flavours of sav may be altered,” according to Steve Smith, master of wine.
Careful monitoring and experimentation with other grape varieties may be the only thing winegrowers can do for the moment.