Champagne may be in short supply rather soon, according to ClimateAI, a climate resilience platform based in San Francisco.
ClimateAI's artificial intelligence-driven data has suggested that hundreds of grape varieties could be on the brink of extinction, including champagne-making grapes like pinot noir, chardonnay and merlot.
Will Kletter, ClimateAI's vice president of operations and strategy, told Fox News Digital in an interview that champagne and wine drinkers may be at a loss by the year 2050.
16 July 2022, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Rottweil: Wedding guests toast with champagne at a champagne reception. Photo: Silas Stein/dpa (Photo by Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images)
"If you are a consumer who has a very particular preference for a bottle of wine from a certain region, then I would encourage you to enjoy that now," he said.
Champagne’s "delicious" taste comes from a cross-over of warm, sunny days for rich flavor and cool nights for an acidic, crisp feeling, Kletter said.
But as the climate warms, the expert warned that those cool nights could "start to go away."
"That puts growers in a very difficult position," he said. "They can decide to harvest early to prevent what's called overripening — too much booze, too much flavor in the grape — or let it sit on the vine and risk that over-ripening, but maybe get that acidity."
"So fundamentally, there will be a trade-off required to get the flavors we’re expecting."
In light of a changing climate, Kletter said some growers will be forced to move their production north to capture some colder weather.
There has been a "significant" uptick in investment in sparkling products produced in the U.K., for example, where there are warm, sunny days with cool nights, he pointed out.
As companies start to move to different locations, Kletter predicted the economy will shift as well.
Champagne currently comes from one region of France.
French wine accounts for $9.6 billion in exports, equaling 16% of all global wine sales, according to ClimateAI.
In 2021, champagne growers saw their smallest harvest since 1957 due to extreme weather events, ClimateAI reported.
"Sparkling wine can be made anywhere, but champagne can only be made in Champagne, [France]," he said. "This is critical for the French economy."
Half a million champagne industry employees, as well as 24 million tourists who travel to the region each year, could be impacted by the changing climate, Kletter told Fox News Digital.
"Decades, if not centuries, of tradition and culture are built around champagne in that region," he said.
"They're going to face a lot of challenges with preserving the economy and culture as that ideal zone moves away from them."
Kletter predicted that a "very significant economic shift" will occur as crops change, especially in Italian regions where the production of certain wines is at risk.
"You already see Italy kind of dethroned as the world leader [of wine production] due to a number of factors, but climate is certainly an important one," he said. "So it will represent a rebalancing."
Using AI technology, ClimateAI works with clients to forecast and ensure food crop resiliency for up to 50 years into the future.
Its platform, called ClimateLens, combines AI, advanced learning and data points from various sources to come up with climate outlooks and forecasts for specific locations, according to the company's website.
"Our customers can get this data as actionable insights specific to their locations, crops and varieties," Kletter said.
That may influence which varieties they cultivate — as well as where and when they plant, he noted.
This information could guide customers to make "more strategic decisions" about where to grow over the long term, Kletter said.
To adapt, Kletter encouraged growers to blend different grapes to create new versions of popular wine selections.
For example, in Bordeaux and Burgundy, that might mean using new grapes to make Bordeaux wine.
Growers can switch up their timing and use certain methods to protect grapes from the sun, Kletter also mentioned.
"It starts with an understanding of the risk exposure," he said. "And then our customers can move from that longer-term insight to our seasonal offering."
"Despite being in the business of climate risk … we like to think of ourselves as being optimistic, because we provide tools to folks all over the world who are tackling these challenges head-on."
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University climate scientist Dr. Benjamin Cook reacted to ClimateAI's claims in an exchange with Fox News Digital.
The New York-based scientist reiterated that extinction isn't a credible conclusion, since grapes like chardonnay and pinot noir are grown in many regions.
"It is likely, however, that the climate in the Champagne region will become less suitable for these grapes, which means the champagne produced will be different, and possibly lower quality," he said.
"At the same time, it is likely that areas further north will become more suitable for these grapes, opening up the potential for improved production in these other regions."
Cook agreed that climate change will have "significant impacts" on viticulture, which will present a "major challenge to the industry moving forward, especially for high-value wines."
"This will require some degree of adaptation, which might include changing varietals and the wines produced in different regions, moving production to new areas with more suitable climates, or changing management strategies within regions affected by climate change," he said.
Fox News Digital reached out to several champagne and wine producers, including Veuve Cliquot, Moet & Chandon and Dom Perignon, for comment.
Kletter shared his expectations for the continued growth of AI as a tool to improve forecasting accuracy.
"Whether it's a year that has warmer nights … or some untimely precipitation, better forecasting allows producers to get ahead of these risks," he said.
"You can't resolve every problem, but you can make decisions around harvest timing, herbicides or pesticides, or pruning practices, so you can be better prepared for the season based on AI."
"We're at a moment when this technology is not only becoming more powerful, but more available," Kletter added.
"I think the democratization of these types of innovations will be key to long-term climate adaptation."