Friday, October 24, 2008

How California vintners are weathering climate change

This article from the San Francisco Chronicle seems to assume that “climate change” means only warming: The Arctic ice cap is almost gone and glaciers are melting. European wineries are dealing with warmer temperatures, drought and changes in rain and weather patterns, yet while many California wineries are taking many steps to reduce their carbon footprint, most don't seem overly concerned about how climate changes will affect their wines. The reason is fairly simple. They're not seeing anything they aren't already dealing with.

While local wine grape growers have been buffeted from global warming by the Pacific Ocean, they've been reacting to other climate changes for years. "Climate change isn't just global warming," warns climate expert Greg Jones from Southern Oregon University. "While some areas are getting hotter, others are experiencing weather extremes and variability."

He adds: "Most (growers) in California are not doing much in terms of adaptation because the thresholds in many ways have not been met. However, if we fall into a prolonged drought, then watch the change."

…And while many local growers say they're not doing anything different because of warming, others are changing their practices - but they say they're responding to erratic weather, not just heat. "We're not making these changes specifically to deal with climate change, but to deal with extreme weather," says Garrett Buckland, vice president of Premiere Viticultural Services in Napa.

California wine grapes, shot by Thomas Oldcastle, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

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