Climate change is the worst threat the sector has ever faced,” said Torres. “In the 19th century we had the phylloxera plague that wiped out vineyards across Europe. This is much worse.”
As winemakers across Spain and around the world scramble to cope, they’ve increasingly looked to the past, resurrecting late-ripening and heat-tolerant varieties they might have shunned decades earlier.
In California, vintners are embracing grapes such as mourtaou, a nearly extinct variety from south-western France, to create peppery reds, while some in France’s Cognac region are toppling more than a century of tradition to trial climate-resistant grapes. In Bordeaux, concerns about the climate crisis recently helped to secure the approval of six new grape varieties, including castets, a disease-resistant variety that had been on the brink of disappearing.