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Tim York

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What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by Tim York » Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:55 am

With the coincidence of the news of the Californian fires and of the White House's digging into climate change denial, I can't help wondering whether the next years will see more well loved wine regions being devastated by fire. Here are a few candidates -

Australia, Provence, Corsica, Portugal and Greece have already had serious fire damage but AFAIK it has it has only affected major wine areas in the first. However that may only be a matter of good luck. Expect more wine area damage in the future.

High on my list of concern is Chianti country. It has vegetation quite similar to Provence's and heat waves like this summer's Lucifer of increasing frequency.

The Landes forest which goes along the French Atlantic coast from the Gironde estuary to the Basque country is subject to fires but, again AFAIK, they have never threatened Bordeaux vineyards. The nearest are those in Pessac/Léognan and Graves. Those in the Médoc are further away and may be protected by humidity from the Gironde.

What about risks in the Rhône valley, Languedoc/Roussillon, Spain, rest of Italy, Chile......? The Mistral and Tramontane winds in the first two are additional risk factors.
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Brian K Miller

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Re: What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by Brian K Miller » Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:45 am

Well, Chile had major fire damage during the past couple of years. If anything, the Central Valley of Chile is drier than Northern California until one gets well south.
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Re: What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by Peter May » Thu Oct 12, 2017 1:05 pm

South Africa Cape winelands get bush fires every summer, 2017 is no different

http://www.traveller24.com/News/4-major-wine-estates-burnt-in-the-winelands-fires-continue-20170111

I can't think of a year in the past 30 that I#ve been there and not seen great burned areas, and I've seen some fires

Frequent bush fires also in Australia led to research there that showed smoke from such fires contributed a 'smoky' taste to wines as a result of grapes and vine leaves having had minute smoke particles settling on them

see
http://www.academicwino.com/2011/07/does-smoke-exposure-to-grape-vines.html/
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Re: What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by Brian K Miller » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:29 pm

Peter May wrote:
Frequent bush fires also in Australia led to research there that showed smoke from such fires contributed a 'smoky' taste to wines as a result of grapes and vine leaves having had minute smoke particles settling on them

see
http://www.academicwino.com/2011/07/does-smoke-exposure-to-grape-vines.html/


The 2008 vintage, particularly in Mendocino and northern Sonoma, had pronounced smoke taint. A Lioco Indica (Carrigan was definitely smokey)
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Re: What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by Joe Moryl » Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:43 pm

Everyone may remember the wildfire in Portugal that killed over 60 people earlier this year. That wasn't in a well known wine region, but since wine grapes are grown just about everywhere in the country, I'm sure some growers must have been affected. There were many other smaller fires, as there seems to be just about every year. In August, I took a train from Guarda to Porto and saw some burnt out landscapes, including vineyards, around Gouveia, which has some prime Dao growing sites. There was also a raging fire in Mealhada, between Coimbra and Aveiro, which would probably be in the Bairrada wine region. And Spain was extremely dry too, although I didn't personally see any fires.
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Re: What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by Brian K Miller » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:02 am

Many of the more desolate scenes filmed in the "Clint" 1960s westerns were shot in Spain, I understand. Only strange thing is some of the scenery looks to lack enough vegetation to burn. :shock:
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Re: What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by Joe Moryl » Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:00 pm

Brian K Miller wrote:Many of the more desolate scenes filmed in the "Clint" 1960s westerns were shot in Spain, I understand. Only strange thing is some of the scenery looks to lack enough vegetation to burn. :shock:


Yes, on the planes between Madrid and Salamanca it is hard to imagine there being enough to sustain a fire, but I'm sure it can still happen.
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Re: What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by Tim York » Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:36 am

I revive this tread because of the heart rending reports and images coming from Australia. This link from Decanter https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/aust ... ge-430310/ is less alarming on wine damage than some previous. For example an earlier report led me to believe that all the vines of the famous Henschke estate had been destroyed but it turns out that the damage was confined to their pinot noir vines in Adelaide hills. Rain is reported today in Victoria and NSW which will extinguish some of the fires. However the trend seems to indicate an increasing frequency of similar or greater fires in years to come.

Although there is brave talk about replanting, I can't help wondering about the long term viability of wine growing in Australia and other similarly warm parts of the world, including much of California, Portugal and the Mediterranean basin. Even if there were a sudden worldwide burst of energy in tackling the man-made causes of global warming, it could well turn out to be too late in many places.
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David M. Bueker

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Re: What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by David M. Bueker » Thu Jan 16, 2020 8:45 am

The risks will not go down anytime soon. We've lost the near term battle with climate change, and quite likely the war.
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Andrew Burge

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Re: What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by Andrew Burge » Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:40 pm

Hi everyone, I thought it would be worth chipping in on which wine regions have been affected in Australia. Overall the fires have been catastrophic and the national media's focus hasn't been on wine - quite reasonably, all things considered.

The Adelaide Hills has seen major damage, with some smaller makers wiped out completely, and Henschke losing vineyards.
Tumbarumba in NSW has apparently been affected but information is hard to come by
Kangaroo Island as a whole has been more than 50% burned, including some vineyard area
The Granite Belt in Queensland has been affected first by extreme drought and then by fire, although that was very early in the season and it isn't getting any attention now.
Gippsland as a region has been hard hit by fire. I haven't seen any reports of vineyard damage (yet)
And then there remains the question of smoke taint in regions that weren't directly affected. The smoke is creating dangerous air quality in major cities, particularly Melbourne and Canberra at the moment, both of which have wine regions nearby.

On the fires more broadly. the public at large is seething at the country's (lack of) leadership on this issue, and the anger at Australia's position on climate change is becoming quite tangible. On the flipside, its remarkable there haven't been more deaths, which has to be a credit to Emergency Services planning and response. But no one is reporting that.

Cheers
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Tim York

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Re: What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by Tim York » Fri Jan 17, 2020 6:13 am

Andrew Burge wrote:0
On the flipside, its remarkable there haven't been more deaths, which has to be a credit to Emergency Services planning and response. But no one is reporting that.

Cheers
Andrew


Thanks for that, Andrew. Yes, that is indeed remarkable and heartening. The Australian authorities have obviously been doing something right. However the losses of homes and animal life as well as the destruction of landscape seem horrendous.
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Re: What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by Jenise » Fri Jan 17, 2020 3:29 pm

Yes, thank you Andrew. The whole thing just breaks my heart. I've given $$$ to several wildlife rescue organizations, including the refuge on Kangaroo Island. Oh, and next month my monthly tasting is going to be all about Australian wines and we'll send all the funds to fire relief charities.
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Re: What other wine regions are vulnerable to wildfires?

by Andrew Burge » Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:08 pm

Jenise wrote:Yes, thank you Andrew. The whole thing just breaks my heart. I've given $$$ to several wildlife rescue organizations, including the refuge on Kangaroo Island. Oh, and next month my monthly tasting is going to be all about Australian wines and we'll send all the funds to fire relief charities.


That's fantastic Jenise, I'm sure they will be over the moon! The level of support from overseas for the recovery from the fires is quite unbelievable, and gives a global perspective that I'm not sure Australians in general have.

KI is a special place, we were genuinely shocked how good a destination it is. The wildlife is (was?) spectacular - to pull into the carpark at the national park and see two koalas in the tree above us was amazing. The raptor sanctuary and show is a treat. Seal Bay (yes - its full of large seals) is a little surreal. And the food is amazing once you seek it out. Islander Estate Vineyards is owned by the Lurton family. Genuine quality.

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