red-wine-shiraz-3Young Australian vintner Nick Glaetzer’s made history when his Glaetzer-Dixon Mon Pere Shiraz won a major national award – the first time judges had handed the coveted trophy to a shiraz made south of the Bass Strait separating Tasmania from the Australian mainland.  Glaetzer’s gamble embodies a major shift in Australia’s wine-growing industry as it responds to climate change.

Five years ago, his winemaking family thought he was crazy when he abandoned the Barossa Valley – the hot, dry region that is home to the country’s world-famous big, brassy shiraz.

Wine makers are so concerned about the impact of global warming on the A$5.7 billion ($NZ6 billion) industry that they funded a government-backed experiment in the Barossa vineyards to simulate the drier conditions expected in 30-50 years’ time.

For wine lovers, the upshot is that Australia’s iconic shiraz is already changing – Glaetzer’s version is 15-20 percent lower in alcohol content than its Barossa cousins – and could be unrecognisable in half a century’s time.

“If the projections are right, a shiraz in the Barossa in 50 years’ time may well taste totally different to what it does at the moment,” said Michael McCarthy, the government scientist heading up the Barossa experiment. 

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