Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Some Wine Makers Love Climate Change

Is climate change actually good for wine vineyards? Some winemakers seem to think so, as it has helped them achieve consecutive years of excellent vintages. So they have little incentive to make any changes that would either adapt to climate change, or take measures to decrease their carbon footprint.

Are these winemakers correct, should we not care about climate change? Or are they blind to the true dangers ahead, and if so, how do you convince them otherwise?

In the current issue of Mother Jones magazine (August 2010), there is an interesting article,"Grapes of Wrath," by Mark Hertsgaard. It concerns the effect of climate change on vineyards and wine making, and is adapted from his forthcoming book, Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.

Mark mentions how some winemakers are joyous about climate change. "Some of the most expensive wines in Spain come from the Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa regions," Pancho Campo, the founder and president of the Wine Academy of Spain, says. "They are getting almost perfect ripeness every year now for Tempranillo. This makes the winemakers say, 'Who cares about climate change? We are getting perfect vintages.' The same thing has happened in Bordeaux. It is very difficult to tell someone, 'This is only going to be the case for another few years.'" (p.38)

How do you argue with these winemakers? How can you convince them that these prime vintages won't last? It may be a very difficult task.

Mark continues with a dire prediction for vineyards in the U.S., though obviously the potential threat is worldwide. "If current trends continue, the "premium wine grape production area [in the United States]...could decline by up to 81 percent by the late 21st century," a team of scientists wrote in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. The culprit was not so much the rise in average temperatures but an increased frequency of extremely hot days, defined as above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit). If no adaptation measures were taken, these increased heat spikes would "eliminate wine grape production in many areas of the United States," the scientists wrote." (p.38)

Is this how most people react, unconcerned unless something directly affects them? And if it benefits them, are they are less likely to be concerned? When they finally act, will it be too late?

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