German ice wine harvest fails for the first time

An unusually warm winter has caused the German ice wine harvest to fail for the first time in recorded history.

Temperatures failed to drop to the -7C required for the frozen grapes to be picked, pressed and turned into the iconic wine.

This was a common theme in every German wine-producing region.

“Due to the mild winter, the minimum temperature of minus seven degrees Celsius required for an ice harvest was not reached in any German wine region, and the coming days are also no longer expected to see frosty nights,” said Ernst Büscher, spokesman for the German Wine Institute.

Climate scientists have repeatedly warned that climate change will have a significant impact upon the world’s wine regions, warning that at least 85% of vineyards are at risk.

It has allowed the English sparkling wine industry to flourish, enjoying conditions similar to those seen in the Champagne region 50 years ago, but many famous regions are forced to experiment with new grape varieties and other techniques in a bid to mitigate the effects of rising global temperatures.  

“If the warm winters accumulate in the next few years, ice wines from the German wine regions will soon become an even more rare rarity than they already are,” said Büscher.

The German Wine Institute said the amount of harvested in one vintage also influences the willingness of the producers to leave grapes hanging for ice wine production. In years with low yields, many growers tend not to run the risk of losing more grapes the following year due to a lack of ice harvest.

Last year was the Earth’s second hottest on record, according to the EU’s climate monitoring service, and only slightly below the peak set in 2016.

The world is currently surging towards a temperature increase of 3-5°C by 2100 compared to pre-Industrial times, according to the UN. The 2015 Paris Agreement seeks to keep the increase below 2°C, but no countries are currently living up to the pledge and the Trump administration has pulled the US out of the agreement.

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