THE ORGANOLEPTIC ORACLE: Wine is the Perfect Dry Farming Poster Child ...

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1.     Wine is a known /safe industry to all stakeholders

2.     Valuable historic climate data recorded by winemakers – what other industry possess centuries of daily temperature records, harvest dates and yields?

3.     Investment-friendly offers: Economic viability / Technical possibility / Political acceptability

4.     Strong, coherent network between the players

5.     Has Experience in adaptation techniques for long-term resilience (thanks to the life-line of vine)

6.     Marketing and media/communication structures already in place

7.     Industry possesses a strong sustainability mind-set – comparatively

8.     Highly-visible, consumer market: must be seen to be taking action / brand protection is important

 9.     Product has a very long value chain: from root stock selection and planting to bottling and transport, thus encompasses all adaptation issues, from land use, agriculture, transport, energy, insurance models … a good “template”.

So with all eyes on the wine industry – let’s lead the agricultural sector in true sustainability.

For viticulture to survive, for it to go beyond adaptation, beyond sustainability and to become truly resilient, it must not only take responsibility for its role in water conservation, but it must also protect its soil, its low and healthy yields, and its quality, or its “luxury” status will be lost. This cannot be achieved through irrigation. Many wine producers already understand that the Vitis vinifera is busily migrating and they may have to follow. Assisting winemakers to envision this outcome and the ensuing ramifications is part of being resilient to climate change.  The winemakers who do not embrace such realities, however unthinkable, risk being the ones who will be destroyed by adversity as opposed to merely being changed by it.

When a natural environment is contrived and manipulated to such an extent in order to accommodate a crop’s growing process; when local government legislation prioritises viticultural export products in lieu of food crops; and when the very essence of a crop’s value and identity is altered beyond recognition, then assisted diversification and or migration at a forced pace may be the only option.

In the reality of the current water crisis. It is too late to debate the virtues of Regulated Deficit Irrigation versus sub-surface drip irrigation or of recycled water, rainwater harvesting, or what does or does not constitute supplemental rainfall, or the accuracy of water footprints or the effects of irrigation on wine quality or how much water stress is too much or the existence of terroir.

It is simply time to ask: Wine? Or Water?