James Daniell & WineRisk Team/KIT (CEDIM)

These winemaking regions are most at risk from natural hazards

Winemakers in France will soon be firing up hail cannons to protect their beloved Burgundies from freak storms that have decimated crops in recent years. They hope silver iodide particles shot into the clouds will stop hail from forming. But hail is only one scourge of vintners: Floods, frost, and fires are increasingly common in wine-growing regions, thanks in part to a changing global climate. Now, meteorologists, geophysicists, and economists have joined forces to come up with the first ever “risk index” based on natural hazards for more than 7000 wine-producing regions worldwide. The team assembled maps of climate- and non-climate-related hazards and combined the data to calculate an overall risk index, with a score of 50 considered "low," and a score of 200 considered "very high" (above). Argentina, the country of Georgia, and Moldova topped the list, they reported last month at the European Geosciences Union’s annual meeting. Least at risk were French Polynesia, Sri Lanka, and the Netherlands Antilles. It’s impossible to avoid all risks, the team concludes, but vintners can lessen them by installing sprinklers in their vineyards to combat frost, for example. And even amateur vinophiles can protect their collections from earthquakes and other hazards by securing expensive bottles to racks using rubber cords. After all, having more wine is something we can all drink to.