Researchers say wine-making areas may decline from Bordeaux to Australia as climate change prompts a shift to higher latitudes and elevations in New
Researchers say wine-making areas may decline from Bordeaux to Australia as climate change prompts a shift to higher latitudes and elevations in New Zealand and the Northern Hemisphere. Shown is Terra Vitae Seddon Vineyards on the Awatere River in Marlborough, New Zealand, in 2010. (Mark Coote/Bloomberg News)

MELBOURNE, Australia — Areas suitable for viticulture may decline from Bordeaux to Australia as climate change prompts a shift in wine production to higher latitudes and elevations in New Zealand and the Northern Hemisphere, researchers said.

Suitable grape-growing areas may drop 68 percent in Mediterranean Europe by 2050 and fall 73 percent in regions of Australia with a so-called Mediterranean climate, according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. New Zealand's suitable area will more than double and it will also surge in northern Europe and western North America, it said.

A warming of 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade is projected for the next 20 years in a range of greenhouse gas emission scenarios, says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate during this century, says the United Nations.

"Redistribution in wine production may occur within continents, moving from declining traditional wine-growing regions to areas of novel suitability," the authors wrote. "At higher latitudes and elevations, areas not currently suitable for viticulture are projected to become more suitable."

The study used 17 climate models to estimate changes in suitability for viticulture and the impact on water use and natural habitat. Suitability for wine output will also decline in the Rhone Valley in France and Tuscany by 2050, it said.

A growing and increasingly affluent global population will probably boost demand for wine and ensure that grapes will be grown in current producing areas to the extent that land and water allow, as well as expand into new areas, the study said.

Global wine production dropped 6 percent to 250.9 million hectoliters (6.63 billion gallons) in 2012, the lowest level in at least 37 years, on smaller grape crops in France, Spain and Argentina, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine. The world faces a wine shortage of at least 10 million hectoliters, the equivalent of 1.3 billion bottles, Bertrand Girard, chief executive officer of Groupe Val d'Orbieu, France's biggest wine cooperative, said in October.