Precipitation intensity under a warming climate is threatening some Italian premium wines

Piero Di Carlo, Eleonora Aruffo, William H. Brune

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Changes in regional climate are causing disruptions in global agriculture, including wineries that produce premium wines. Temperature is the key factor influencing the growth stages of wine grapes worldwide and its recent increase is causing early harvests, affecting the quality and quantity of premium wine. Water availability is the other important element: during the growing season the crop yield benefits of constant moderate rains, whereas this positive effect would be reversed if the same precipitation amounts fell in short periods of time. Climate change may alter the characteristics of precipitation such as intensity, duration and frequency of rain even if it does not alter the total amount of precipitation. Although the impact of precipitation amount and drought on wine grape phenology have been investigated, knowledge of the role of precipitation characteristics is very limited. Here we show that the precipitation intensity, which is the precipitation amount divided by the number of the rainy days (NRD), has also caused early grape harvest dates for one grape varietal. Using the harvest dates (1820–2012) of a premium wine made by a winery that has kept the cultivation methods and practices unchanged since 1650, we found that for growing seasons since 1960, annual harvest dates have been getting early as temperature increases (−5.92 days °C−1) and more intense precipitation events occur (−1.51 days/(mm/NRD)). Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the increasing tendency of precipitation intensity could exacerbate the effect of global warming on some premium wines that have been produced for >400 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-513
Number of pages6
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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