Viniculture in numbers
Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Today, the area cultivated with winegrapes covers approximately 67,000 ha (of which about 29,000 ha are under protected geographical indication) where about 200 indigenous varieties are cultivated. Island areas represent 26% of the total area under winegrapes in Greece (about 17,500 ha) (1).
Vulnerabilities - Trends so far
Viticulture is affected by climate change, mainly by a shift in the four basic grapevine developmental stages budbreak, flowering, véraison (beginning of maturation) and full ripeness (harvest). These main events have shown a 5–10 d response per 1°C of warming over the last 30–50 years averaged over many wine regions and varieties (2). Warmer conditions due to climate change are generally associated with shorter intervals between phenological events and to earlier harvest dates (3).
Harvest and climate data from eight wine production regions in Greece, each representing a different winegrape variety (both white and red varieties), covering a period of approximately 20 years or more, were analysed (4). The harvest date series come from four mainland regions and four islands. The results show a statistically significant earlier occurrence of harvest in five out of eight locations: an advance by 0.31 to 0.55 days per year for three island locations, and an advance by 0.35 to 0.77 days per year for two mainland locations. The two other mainland locations showed non-significant trends over time, while the other island location showed significantly delayed grape harvest dates. The latter delay may be due to non-climate factors; grape growers may adapt viticultural practices to delay grape ripeness and thus mask the effect of climate change on grape ripening and minimize harvest anomalies (5). A relationship between climate change and grape harvest date may be obscured by a number of reasons. For instance, in areas where late ripening varieties are grown, and the maturation period does not allow sugars to accumulate to favourable levels, warming would improve sugar content at harvest but without necessarily a shift in the harvest time; in two mainland locations with non-significant trends over time grown varieties are late ripening varieties (4).
Vulnerabilities - Future projections
The increasing trend of temperature and drought will affect all wine-producing regions in Greece this century. In vineyards in mountainous regions, the impact is positive while in islands and coastal regions it is negative. Some mountainous areas will become suitable for viticulture, while arid and semiarid regions of Greece will be abandoned or forced to take protective measures (irrigation), to enable them to continue producing quality wine (6).
Future changes in weather conditions during this century have been assessed for 23 weather stations proximal to the key mainland, coastal and island viticultural areas of Greece. This was done with a regional climate model under a high-end scenario of climate change (the so-called RCP8.5 scenario). The projections suggest significant shifts towards warmer and drier conditions across all locations in the future. These conditions are very likely to advance phenology and harvest beyond what is considered suitable and will likely have detrimental impacts on wine quality (7).
Overall, the changes projected for the future climate will challenge the Greek wine industry to increase its adaptive capacity through better understanding of temperature thresholds for the varieties grown and the adoption of new cultivation techniques and strategies (7).
The references below are cited in full in a separate map 'References'. Please click here if you are looking for the full references for Greece.
- Lacombe et al. (2011), in: Koufos et al. (2014)
- Jones et al. (2005b); Ramos et al. (2008), both in: Koufos et al. (2014)
- Bindi et al. (1996); Tomasi et al. (2011), both in: Koufos et al. (2014)
- Koufos et al. (2014)
- Van Leeuwen et al. (2007), in: Koufos et al. (2014)
- Lazoglou et al. (2018)
- Koufos et al. (2018)