Predicted impacts of climate change on crops—including yield declines and loss of conservation lands—could be mitigated by exploiting existing diversity within crops. Here we examine this possibility for wine grapes. Across 1,100 planted varieties, wine grapes possess tremendous diversity in traits that affect responses to climate, such as phenology and drought tolerance. Yet little of this diversity is exploited. Instead many countries plant 70–90% of total hectares with the same 12 varieties—representing 1% of total diversity. We outline these challenges, and highlight how altered planting practices and new initiatives could help the industry better adapt to continued climate change.

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Many thanks to C. Marchal and S. Dedet, who helped with data from INRA Domaine de Vassal Grape Collection (France), S. Schaffer-Morrison who helped build the dataset of geolocations of the world’s wine-growing regions, E. Forrestel who helped format the crush report data from California, and to T. J. Davies, whose comments improved the manuscript.

Author information


  1. Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA

    • E. M. Wolkovich
    •  & I. Morales-Castilla
  2. Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • E. M. Wolkovich
    •  & I. Morales-Castilla
  3. Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), US 1116 AGROCLIM, Avignon, France

    • I. García de Cortázar-Atauri
  4. Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS), P.O. Box 170, Lund, Sweden

    • K. A. Nicholas
  5. Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA), UMR 1334 AGAP, Montpellier, France

    • T. Lacombe


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All authors contributed ideas and edited the manuscript. In addition, E.M.W. wrote the manuscript, T.L. helped with data for Figs. 1,2 and 4. E.M.W. and I.M.-C. designed Figs. 3 and 5 together and EMW designed and produced Figs. 1,2 and 4.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to E. M. Wolkovich.

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