’60 Minutes’ explains how global warming is affecting the wine and champagne supply

On Sunday night, correspondent Lesley Stahl visited Europe to find out how climate change and global warming is affecting the wine and champagne supply.

“What are the signs of global warming,” asked Stahl. “Glaciers are melting at an increasingly rapid pace. Persistent droughts are spreading. Well, we have another to tell you about – wine. As in, what you probably cracked open for Christmas dinner.”

According to Stahl, France, which has been a major center of winemaking for centuries, is experiencing increasingly higher temperatures and extreme weather conditions. This year, the country recorded its smallest harvest since 1957 and stands to lose more than $2 Billion in sales. As for vineyards around the world, many in North America and Australia were scorched in fires.

Christine Sevillano, who took over her family’s business at Champagne Piot Sevillano, shared that they have faced their worst year ever this year, losing 90% of their harvest. “A normal year, I produce around 40,000 to 50,000 bottles.” This year, though, Sevillano shared that they have produced “zero.”

“It’s the first time in the history of my winery that we will not make champagne,” said Sevillano.

Fortunately, it’s not all bad. Scientists are studying ways to adapt to the changing environmental conditions by introducing new grape varieties that can withstand warmer climates as well as creating new grapes via genetic breeding.

And in a twist of irony, due to the warmer summers, France and Italy’s grapes are “ripening better,” which means the small quality of the wine they are able to produce is at its best. Unfortunately, the quantity is low.

As for England, climate change is currently working out in their favor. As it turns out, due to global warming, the country is seeing warmer temperatures, which has made their wine better than ever.

“We’re now where Champagne was 30 or 40 years ago,” said Stephen Skelton, a member of the highly-respected Institute of Masters of Wine.

“So, the climate, right now, where you and I are sitting in England, is the same as the climate was 40 years ago in France,” concluded Stahl in slight disbelief.

60 Minutes airs Sundays at 7:30 p.m. on CBS News.

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