For the average wine drinker, whether a Bordeaux chateau harvests its grapes in September or August may seem like a matter of little concern, but in fact harvest dates (and heat) play a huge role in wine quality. After studying more than 500 years of European harvest records for a recent paper on climate change and wine grape harvests, Harvard's Elizabeth Wolkovich, Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, together with researchers from NASA, has determined that French wine grape harvest dates saw a major turning point after 1980, getting earlier and earlier. I talked with her about what this development might mean.
How long did you work on this study?
The last ten years of my life, really. I was interested in wine grapes because they're hyper-diverse, and I thought they'd be able to help us answer a lot of questions about wild species, too.