When I read pieces such as that which follow, I get rather cranky. It is entirely untrue to say that wine has moved south. The Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s warmest wine growing regions, has had a stellar run of vintages in 2011, ‘13 and ‘14, the latter one of the best of the past 50 years. There’s no chance of the Hunter Valley moving south in my lifetime. At the other end of the spectrum, the cool regions around Melbourne (Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley, Macedon Ranges, Geelong, Gippsland) have had stellar vintages in 2012 and ‘13, with pinot noir to the fore. Moving south? I don’t think so.
Yes, there is increasing interest in Tasmania, but that shift in focus has not
been driven by desires to get off the mainland. Tasmania is certainly a price
place for sparkling wine growing and making, and produces many outstanding
pinot noirs. But it does not have the field to itself. The trophy for Best
Pinot Noir of Show at the Melbourne Wine Awards ‘14 a couple of weeks ago came
from the Yarra Valley, beating one of the top Tasmanian pinot noirs in a
taste-off for the trophy. Home Hill is the Tasmanian winery in question,
Coldstream Hills the Yarra winery.
Australian agriculture needs to adapt, not simply shift, to meet climate change
BY JANE WARDELL
SYDNEY Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:02am BST
have moved north, tuna has moved east, wine has moved south.
But sooner or later, Australia is going to run out of places to shift
agricultural production to avoid the harsh effects of climate change.
Australia's flagship scientific body told the Reuters Global Climate Change
Summit on Wednesday that it is therefore critical for companies to consider
both mitigation and adaption measures now.
"We have to act very soon on mitigation, reducing carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere, and adaptation," the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organization's (CSIRO) Science Director for Climate Adaption Mark
Stafford Smith said in an interview in Sydney.
Climate change is a major threat to food security in a country that has talked
about becoming a "food bowl" for Asia. It also complicates a
government plan to increase agricultural production to meet an expected
doubling in global food demand by 2050.
As the only developed nation dominated by an arid climate, Stafford Smith said,
Australia faces more variability in rainfall, prolonged droughts and a greater
incidence of extreme weather events.
The government-funded CSIRO is working with a range of industries and companies
on a number of adaptation strategies.
Treasury Wine Estates Ltd and other wine companies are testing underground
irrigation systems, developed with CSIRO, in their vineyards in response to
increased levels of evaporation.
The agency is also working with cereal farmers to experiment with new grain
varieties better able to cope with higher levels of carbon dioxide in the
The average global temperature has warmed by more than 0.7 degrees Celsius over
the past century, and the present warming rate is 0.2 degrees Celsius per
decade, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Australia is heating up even faster - a joint Bureau of Meteorology-CSIRO State
of the Climate 2014 report found current temperatures are, on average, almost
one degree Celsius warmer than they were in 1910. Most of this increase has
occurred since the 1950s, suggesting an accelerated warming trend.
The need to adapt is reflected in the varying success Australian industries
have had in making a straightforward geographical shift.
Wine companies are benefiting from the purchase of vineyards in the tiny
island-state of Tasmania. Prompted by ever hotter and drier conditions to find
alternatives to the country's traditional wine growing regions on the mainland,
they are now growing different varieties in the cooler southern climate.
Tuna fisheries in the Southern Ocean have shifted further east as sea
temperatures rise, initially moving them closer to ports and other
infrastructure. But if they continue to chase warmer waters east, they will
move further away again.
A lack of infrastructure was the downfall of a move by peanut growers from
central Queensland to the tip of the Northern Territory. Growers moved north to
take advantage of the mix of sun and higher rainfall, but high transport costs
and mould hampered their efforts.
The Peanut Company of Australia abandoned its plans for large-scale production
in the far north in 2012, selling its property after just five years on the
land to a sandalwood producer.
The peanut industry is looking at trying again, but this time it is setting the
stage with a trial crop to try and find a new variety of peanut for the
Stafford Smith said it is that kind of innovation rather than simply shifting
geographies that Australia needs to pursue - and could potentially export to
others, given the country is at the forefront of responding to climate change.
"Australia has a comparative advantage in dry-land agriculture and on the
natural resources side," he said.
Follow Reuters Summits on Twitter @Reuters_Summits