August 12, 2020

Germany runs out of ice wine due to climate crisis • Trends21

The summer heat waves have turned into real tides and the winters change with great speed. Strategic crops such as wine and fruit trees are doomed to catastrophe.

Summers are getting hotter. It is no longer heat waves that hit us: now we have real tides. And future forecasts are dire.

But not only the affected summer temperature is seen. Winters also tend to get milder and this has already had its consequences.

Many countries in northern latitudes, such as Germany, Canada, the USA or the Scandinavian countries produce a special type of wine.

Taking advantage of the extreme cold typical of their geography, they cultivate vineyards in order to produce a winter wine characteristic for its high sugar content and its relatively low alcohol content.

But for this, temperatures below -7 ° C must be reached, something increasingly infrequent and which begins to make this wine a rarity.

The unthinkable

This year in Germany the unthinkable has happened, as only one vineyard has been able to produce ice wine. The total volume obtained from the precious drink throughout the country has been 100 liters.

In order to make this wine it is required that the grapes stay in the vines for a long time, until winter. Once frost arrives, if one occurs with temperatures below -7 ° C, the grapes should be collected quickly and when they are still frozen.

The freezing of the grapes causes a large amount of water to come out of its interior, notably increasing the sugar concentration of the fruit. The large amount of sugar produces difficult and slow fermentations, which leads to wines of low alcohol content and very sweet.

The drink, once bottled, can cost hundreds of euros.

It is a great financial contribution for farmers in the German wine regions who depend entirely on adequate weather conditions to save the year.

A climate that in recent years was already causing less than normal production and that this year has practically caused total crop loss.

Furthermore, German wine production is not only affected by the lack of intense frosts: the greater frequency of long and hot summers, with less rainfall, brings forward the harvests and decreases the volume and quality of the wine produced.

And with respect to this last point, Spanish wineries are not exempt.

Also other crops

But man does not live on wine alone.

Gradually warmer winters in temperate and cold climate regions also have other dire consequences.

Many fruit crops in temperate latitudes, such as apple, olive or cherry trees, require cold temperatures to control the timing of budding and flowering.

In winter these trees are in a dormant period, a rest controlled by exposure to low temperatures.

During dormancy the trees have to be exposed to a sufficient amount of cold, literally building up the cold, before the shoots can break.

Thanks to this mechanism, the trees make sure to sprout at the right time, avoiding sprouting at times that might seem appropriate due to the temperature and light, but which may be continued by periods of intense cold that damage the shoots, as would happen if they sprouted in the fall. or during waves of warmer temperatures in winter.

But if enough cold does not accumulate during sleep, the tree does not respond adequately.

Outbreaks could be delayed. Flowering, being spotty and weak.

As a consequence, many of these crops may no longer be profitable. The use of land, if you want to continue producing, should change towards other types of crops.

More examples

We can find many more examples of how warmer winters will affect us directly or indirectly. And not only with regard to crops.

The ways of life of different human societies have adapted to their climate and this, now, is changing very rapidly.

As we have seen, the climate crisis will not only lead to more extreme temperatures in summer: winter is also changing rapidly.

And a less cold winter will have serious consequences that, for many, can be catastrophic.


Climatic Changes Lead to Declining Winter Chill for Fruit and Nut Trees in California during 1950–2099. Eike Luedeling et al. PLOS ONE, July 22, 2009. DOI: https: //

Yield potential definition of the chilling requirement reveals likely underestimation of the risk of climate change on winter chill accumulation. Rebecca Darbyshire et al. International Journal of Biometeorology volume 63, pages183–192 (2019). DOI: https: //

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