Monday, December 17, 2007

As the climate changes, so does our wine

A long article Appelation about warming impacts on the wine industry: Based on various scientific surveys, we know that temperatures will continue to become warmer on average between now and 2100, and that will have a direct impact on the growing of grapes and the resulting types of wines that the various established wine regions can produce. It could also change the typical characteristics that we associate with various wine-growing regions.

At the moment, we have more questions than answers. Among them are, “Will Napa Valley soon be too warm to grow classically structured (age-worthy) Cabernet Sauvignon? Will Bordeaux soon be warm enough to grow California-style Cabernet? Will Pinot Noir be all but impossible to grow in California and Oregon in just a few years? How far north must we go to plant grapes that will emulate the best wines we once made with regularity in California? What grape varieties will we have to plant and which varieties will be removed by this change in climate? And what will become of the typical regional character we have come to associate with various regions of the wine world?

The topic of global warming was on the lips of everyone at the Adelaide technical conference, in part because Australia’s wine industry has already seen the impact of global warming. The drought it has been suffering through for the last several years is not only a reality for the Aussie wine industry, but it figures to get worse. And high temperatures during the 2007 harvest caused a drastic drop in production.

…The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has said that unless wine makers intervene with plant-protection systems, the total area suitable for wine growing in this country could shrink by up to 80 percent by the end of the century.

…No one is quite sure what to make of global climate change at this point, but almost all agree that it’s a huge challenge to wine makers around the world. And it figures to grow even more challenging.

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