Monday, May 20, 2013

Climate Change and the Wine Industry, Part 3

One of the impressive new breed of winery owners is John Williams of Napa's Frog's Leap Winery.  He is proactive ecologically from a larger-than-just-the-wine-industry prospective; as in, "It's about humanity, Stupid".  Frog's Leap is 100% organic with electricity provided by solar panels mounted on poles over Merlot vines; heating and cooling provided by a geothermal system using the earth's temperatures; and NO IRRIGATION!  Because access to fresh water may be endangered and/or expensive in the future, "no irrigation" is huge.  Williams says we don't know how climate change may alter the environment; it's just that fretting about this industry is really small compared to the survival of humanity. 

Changes in climate and temperature will, of course, not be evenly applied everywhere even within individual vineyards.  Some proactive measures may mean just planting the Zinfandel in a less impacted area of the vineyard or pruning the vines and/or constructing trellises for more shade.  Crossing the Zinfandel with Syrah or another more heat resistant grape may also provide a solution but with every measure taken comes another unforeseen consequence.  The new grape from the Zin crossbreeding would no longer be Zinfandel which has been promoted for a hundred years in one way or another.  So the new creation would now have to be supported with new advertising dollars.

Pests have always been a reality for viticulturalists.  In North Georgia the reason for vineyard placements in the mountains was to avoid the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter, an insect that spreads the deadly Pierce's Disease.  Cold winters are the prophylactic so one can either move up north or place your vineyard at a higher elevation.  With warmer winters a reality here now, the Sharpshooter and Pierce's are no longer avoidable.  Actually, Ted Turner bought Montana.  Hmmm.

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