Rapidly changing climatic conditions for wine grape growing in the Okanagan Valley region of British Columbia, Canada

Text - scientific article/review article


A statistical analysis was conducted on long-term climate records for sites bordering Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley viticultural region of British Columbia, Canada. Average wine grape growing season temperatures are increasing rapidly in the area over the post-1980 period at rates upwards of 7.0 +/- 1.3 degrees C/century. Similar increases in the average dormant season temperature are evident. These temperature changes are likely some of the most extreme observed among the world's wine producing areas during the past few decades. Growing degree day base 10 degrees C (GDD(10)) has increased by nearly 50% at some locations since the 1970s, resulting in major impacts on the corresponding climate classification for viticulture. If current climate trends continue, the southern and central portions of the region will likely enter Winkler region II within the next few decades, placing them in the same category as well-established warmer wine regions from France, Spain, Italy, and Australia. The large dormant season temperature increases over the last several decades have resulted in the area no longer being a cold season outlier when compared to most other cool-climate viticultural areas. Based on average growing season temperatures, the southern end of Okanagan Lake has moved out of the cool-climate viticultural classification and into the intermediate zone, while the central and northern regions are now at the cool/intermediate viticulture interface, similar to the historical positions of the Rhine Valley in Germany, northern Oregon in the United States, and the Loire Valley, Burgundy-Cote, Burgundy-Beaujolais, and Champagne appelations of France. The corresponding suitable grape species for the area have evolved into warmer region varietals during this time frame, having substantial economic impacts on producers. Increased temperatures are also expected to bring greater threats from agricultural pests, notably Pierce's disease from the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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  • Xylella fastidiosa