The Wines They Are a Changin’

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According to a recent study, undertaken jointly by the National Science Foundation, NASA, and Purdue University, climate change will reduce the amount of U.S. land suitable for growing grapes by 81 percent by the year 2099. You won’t be able to find that supple, seamless Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley anymore. You’ll have to find it in New England.

“We found that at elevated greenhouse gas concentrations, the frequency of extremely hot days increases to the point where it is impossible to grow premium wine grapes in many areas of the country,” Purdue University researcher Noah Diffenbaugh told the Los Angeles Times.

A 2003 study, conducted by Southern Oregon University, predicted a 3.6 degree temperature increase over the next fifty years but concluded that a rise in average temperature would have little impact on California’s $2.9 billion a year wine industry. Diffenbaugh’s research looks beyond the averages. First published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the report claims that, within the studied areas, the number of days 95 degrees or hotter will skyrocket to 50 to 60 a year by the end of the century. A Reuters article on the same subject reports that even the heartiest grapes can withstand only 14 to 15 such scorchers.

The rising temperatures will push vineyards farther north, into Oregon and Washington State and New England on the East Coast. Diffenbaugh cautions that those regions will also have higher precipitation rates and humidity, both of which cause detrimental mildew and fungal growth. Still, keep a lookout for those dueling East and West coast Portland Pinots.

Source; Reuters: www.enn.com/today.html?id=10842LA Times: www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-sci-wine11jul11,1,6042288.story?coll=la-news-a_section

To read about California vineyards that are blazing a trail in renewable energy, check out “Green Wine: Vineyards Add Solar Power.”

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