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A new agricultural frontier in Canada and Russia

Last year over the holidays, I attended a virtual wine tasting event that was put on by one of our partners. It was with a vineyard / winemaker in Spain and so it was evening for us and some ungodly hour for him.

At the end of the tasting — which was exceptional, by the way — I asked him what he thought about the Niagara region. Some of you may know that I love to support local Ontario wines. His response was hilarious and something along the lines of: “When we think of Niagara wines, we think of a part of the world that shouldn’t produce wine but somehow does.”

Ouch.

This was maybe the case before. But I think the region, vines, and industry have all matured. We also have some exceptional winemakers, some of which have come from the Old World because our startup-y wine region affords them far more creative freedom.

But you might also argue that things are changing because our climate is changing. The Financial Times recently published an interesting “big read” about how agricultural production and crop types are shifting around the world in the face of climate temperatures.

It turns out that wine grapes are a pretty good leading indicator. A canary in the coal mine if you will. Because climate matters a great deal if you’re trying to make exceptional wines. And if you’ve been harvesting a particular thing at a certain time for the last 5 decades and you’re now doing it several weeks earlier, it might be a sign that something is changing.

It also turns out that two countries, in particular, stand to disproportionately benefit from this shifting agricultural landscape: Canada and Russia. As temperatures change, a new agricultural frontier is going to be created. And it is expected that more than 50% of this land will be in these two countries. See image at the top of this post.

Of course, there’s a flipside to this change. Countries on the other end of the spectrum with marginal growing climates and/or low production yields, could be severely impacted by higher temperatures. So perhaps it is a good idea to stay on top of what’s happening in the world of wine. Might I recommend something from Niagara?

Image: FT

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