Creating Change: 4 Challenges That Are Unique to the Wine Industry

It can sometimes seem like nothing affects the wine industry. Anyone with disposable income who appreciates a delicious drop is more than happy to peruse their local liquor store or cellar door and support growers. 

However, like any other industry, the wine industry does face its fair share of challenges, and growers are forever seeking new solutions to overcome them. The following issues are ones they’ll need to look at combatting sooner rather than later. 

Worker Shortages

You might think that workers will come if you have work available and pay a decent wage. But many vineyard operators are having to maintain their own Gregoire grape harvester parts, harvest their own grapes, and clean their own equipment after failing to attract permanent workers. They’re overworked, burnt out, and confused about why they can’t attract hard-working employees. 

The reasons for worker shortages differ, but the Financial Times believes climate change might be causing vineyard labor shortages in Australia, where some of the finest wine in the world originates. 

They said that many people would prefer to work as baristas and in the hospitality industry than deal with intense sunshine, bee stings, and scary encounters with snakes and spiders. Even itinerant workers, backpackers, and interns are being lured into other industries with more comfortable working conditions. 

Bottle Labelling

Many products we buy today must have ingredient labels detailing the contents of the packaging. The wine industry has typically been excluded. However, that’s set to change in the EU. 

All wine sold there will need to have an ingredients label outlining how it has been made and what’s in it. You might be in for a shock when you learn there’s more than just grapes in your favorite bottle of wine. 

Water Usage

Water is precious, and winemakers are worried there’ll be repercussions for using too much. It currently takes more than 870 gallons of water to produce a single gallon of wine. That means that your five-fluid-ounce glass of wine needed 34 gallons to end up in your glass. 

California is one of the largest wine-making regions in the world, and it’s also one of the most drought-stricken. As a result, water usage is something many winemakers are starting to look at to ensure they can keep production on track while using less water. 

Wineries in France now use drip irrigation with hoses that can sense when to stop watering their vines. They’re also installing onsite water treatment systems to recycle water used for cleaning equipment. However, it’s worth noting that wineries aren’t alone in their water usage battles. For example, it takes 23 gallons of water to produce one ounce of almonds. 

Climate Change

Climate change has already impacted the wine industry. For example, a temperature increase of just 1.5 degrees Celsius across three decades in Gironde, southwest France, resulted in shorter growth cycles, earlier harvests, overripe grapes, and higher alcohol contents. Some vineyard owners also grapple with vines so adversely affected by intense sunshine that they look burnt. 

Fortunately, the National Institute for Agricultural Research isn’t taking climate change lying down. Instead, they have been studying French and foreign grape varieties to learn more about the effects of climate change and see what they can do to prevent future negative impacts on grape growth. 

The wine industry has been ticking along in the background for decades, but significant changes are afoot. It is only a matter of time before employment issues, water usage, climate change, and labeling regulations change the industry for good.

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