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Coping with Climate Change

Unlike most agricultural products once established, vineyards can produce quality fruit for 80 to 100 years. Not surprisingly, the first few years are the most difficult for vineyards just starting out. Financial investment is considerable before the benefits begin to pay off. What happens when the climate begins to change after 15, 20 or 30 years and the quality of the grapes change – not for the better? Is it possible to continue creating good wine? Spain has noticed climate change resulting in vineyards moving north towards cooler areas. In Spain, the climate has changed enough to increase the sugar level in the grapes resulting in higher levels of alcohol. The Casa de la Ermita winery has attacked the problem with a creative solution. With viticulture and winemaking  practices, according to their claims, Casa de la Ermita produces a wine that is flavorful but with only 6.5% alcohol. Altos de la Ermita was available in Spain as of April 1. This is a red wine blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo and Petit Verdot, aged in oak. According to the website, it “preserves all its characteristics and quality, together with approximately half the alcohol and half the calories.” I look forward to trying this wine when it becomes available in the US. Can it have all of the characteristics of a great wine with only half the alcohol and half the calories?

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