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How climate change is impacting the taste of wine

How climate change is impacting the taste of wine
How climate change is impacting the taste of wine 02:24

TOPSFIELD - Many are dreaming of a white Christmas, but many prefer red too! No matter which kind of wine is at the table this holiday season, the taste of climate change may be at the bottom of your glass. A local vineyard is noticing the change in flavor over the years.

Wine country in New England may not look like Napa Valley, but the maritime climate here is ideal for a variety of grapes to be grown. A hidden gem in the wine industry, but mother nature may be messing with the flavor.

"They have become drier over the years, spicier I think," winemaker Trudi Perry states.

Perry is a volunteer at Alfalfa Farm Winery in Topsfield and has been harvesting grapes each year.

"We harvested nearly 2,000 pounds of grapes," Perry says, which is better than last year.

The vines sit on a long skinny acre of land near the highway. Both white and red grapes that are grown here are made into small batches of wine with big flavor. Their estate grown Maréchal Foch has a rich opaque deep purple hue with earthy and smoky aromas including butter and rosemary.

"It's a spicy, full-bodied wine. Our Leon Millot, which is another red that we grow is a spicy red, a little bit lighter than our Maréchal Foch. Our seyval blanc is a lovely dry, very full bodied white wine. Slightly acidic, with honey notes, definitely honey on the palate, " Perry details.

This family-owned vineyard has bottled a number of award-winning wines over the years, each tasting a little different than years past.

"We can definitely notice the difference between the years of the harvest," Perry said.

Alfalfa Farm Vineyard is one of about 50 vineyards in Massachusetts. The grapes were planted here in the 1990s, and since then growers have noticed the impacts of weather and climate change in the taste of their wine.

"It makes the taste of the wine clearer... the drier it is," Perry says. "If we have had a particularly hot and dry summer, like we did this summer, our seyval blanc, our Maréchal Foch are going to taste drastically different than the grapes we grew last year."

Last year our region had a soaking wet summer with over 20" of rain.

"The grapes do like dry weather by and large, because it concentrates the sugar in the grape... They are very much like cherry tomatoes, that if it rains a lot right before a harvest, they will take up that water and they will split like cherry tomatoes will. Of course, then you have less sugar and less acid... and that sorta thing," Perry tells WBZ.

The unpredictability in the weather pattern has challenged growers over the years from precipitation to snowpack, but it is the rise in temperatures that can be noted on the palate.

Even a slight difference in temperatures each season can change the way the grapes and eventually the wine the following year may taste. WBZ asked Perry if she noticed the change.

"We have noticed, and it's easy for us to notice, because we make small batches of grapes, " Perry exclaimed.

Despite the subtle change over the years, the assortment of red, white and fruit wines are still award worthy, including several estate-grown varieties. 

The winery will be open on weekends and for private events through December. You can visit their website here.

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