How do climate changes impact the production of wine and olive oil in Tuscany?

We hear more and more about climate change and, with the problems that have occurred this season, it has become an increasingly heated topic of debate not only for farmers but for the whole community. But, in practice, what does climate change consist of in relation to the production of wine and oil? Surely the climate change we are witnessing is characterized by an increase in average temperatures during the year. From the winemakers experience, the rise of 1/1.5 degrees Celsius average during the year is not the real problem. It’s the strong inconsistency compared to the historical averages on weather phenomena such as rains, hail, frost and drought. All this leads to a stress not only of the fruit but of the plant system in general, which is not accustomed to endure certain extreme conditions.

Changes in temperature and absence of rain

Last year and this year’s are definitely a sign that the climate is changing. In fact, the 2021 vintage was characterized by a strong frost in April and this led to a stress of the vine throughout the season.  While 2022 season was characterized by the almost total absence of rain, both during the winter, late spring and summer. In both seasons, the average production compared to the historical was certainly lower. Those who think that this reduction in production contributes to increasing the average quality of grapes are mistaken. In fact, in these cases, the plant finds itself in a condition of stress and, in a certain sense, “it must choose whether to preserve its health or that of the grape”. For this reason, in the current season, there is a very evident discontinuity in the ripening of the grape. In some cases the sugar contained in grapes is already very high, in others we are still behind and, probably, we will not reach a full ripening.

Early harvesting

Another factor to consider is that, in critical years, you can easily reach the ripening sugar (especially if you work in quality) but not the phenological. The latter is the maturation that also considers the values of acidity, pectic substances, tannins, anthocyanins, aromas and mineral elements. Finally, dry vintages such as the current season, necessarily lead to early harvesting. In addition to the problem of not complete phenological ripening, the winemaker finds himself harvesting in August with high temperatures. Bringing the grapes to the cellar at 30 degrees or more, can lead to a loss of aromaticity and problems in the fermentation phase that will affect the final quality of the product.


In the case of olives, the concepts used for grapes are always valid. So vintages like these will contribute to a drastic loss of acids, in particular oleic, if you are not careful about the harvest period. Also the abnormal heat of May has contributed to a considerable reduction of olives seen the floral abortions that there have been. In addition to the fact that the olives remain small and do not grow without water. But it is still too early to judge the current vintage on oil production.