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Australia’s wine future: Adapting to short-term climate variability and long-term climate change



The aim of this project is to use climate science to provide the Australian grape and wine community with information, tools and practical management options to face the challenges of short-term climate cycles and long-term climate change. 


It is well known that year-to-year climate variability poses a challenge to producers. Specific examples are spring frost, heatwaves at flowering and heatwaves just prior to harvest.

However, information on the likelihood of these events in current and future climates is lacking, and climate information is often delivered at an inappropriate timescale or does not address specific industry requirements.

There is a clear industry need for fine-scale regional projections across Australia and forecasts of inter-annual and decadal climate variability.

Responses such as changed irrigation and canopy management can be employed to combat short-term variability, while decisions about vineyard position, orientation and variety choice may be needed to ensure the long term viability of vineyards.

Research approach

This project employs a multi-disciplinary approach to integrate climate science, species distribution modelling and viticultural expertise.

Initial work will develop a crop calendar for each region and variety, in order to identify the main weather and climate risks in relation to crop phenology. Such risks may include heat accumulation, heatwave, drought and frost.

The likelihood of these risks changing with climate drivers such as El Nino and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation will be assessed and information about near-term climate variability (2 months to 10 years ahead) provided.

Effects of heatwave timing and adaptation options on grape growth will be modelled, and climate suitability for key grape varieties at decadal time periods will be mapped.

Five to six case study regions will be chosen to represent the range of grape growers and climate conditions across Australia, and decision analysis tools will be used to identify key management options appropriate to respond to yearly climate variability.

Sector benefits

An understanding of short-term climate variability, as well as trends in climate indices for near and mid-term time scales, will be provided in an accessible, usable form to grape growers and wine makers across Australia.

This information can be used to identify the most appropriate adaptation response within each region, to maintain grape yield, value and wine quality into the future.