While vineyard owners in Bordeaux and California cast a wary glance at a scientific paper last week which said climate change could threaten their wine production, Belgian media have jumped at the suggestion that their much-maligned winemakers could reap the benefits.
The nation is feted for its dazzling array of beers, but does not enjoy the same reputation for its wines, with supermarket shelves here stuffed with bottles imported from France. But earlier this month, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlighted Belgium as one of the countries where vineyards could benefit from an increase in global temperatures.
By 2050, the report says, conditions for growing vines will be better in Northern Europe than in the South of France, prompting headlines asking “Belgium to rival Bordeaux for wine-growing?”
Belgium’s wine producers already have reason to be optimistic. Wine production increased by 15 per cent from 2010 to 2011, and is expected to keep rising. Experts have long speculated that climate change is behind a rise in production, with Canada, England and China also benefiting.
Most of the Belgian wine is grown along the Maas river in Flanders, which is home to about two-thirds of the country’s wine producers. But despite encouraging signs, it will take a lot to wean the nation off its beloved beers. Faced with a choice of 40 Belgian beers on tap, or a glass of the local bubbly, I know which one I would choose.