|Dr. Gregory Jones|
Moreover, the previous two cool years have distracted people from noticing that Napa Valley's weather is now like what Lodi had 40 years ago, says Dr. Gregory Jones of Southern Oregon University. Meanwhile, Lodi now has weather like what Fresno had 40 years ago.
Jones consults with wineries around the world about climate, advising them on what grapes to plant considering what the climate may be like in the future. "You play for a 25-year sweet spot," Jones said over breakfast last week in Ashland, Oregon.
And the sweet spot for people planting right now in Napa Valley probably isn't Cabernet and definitely isn't Chardonnay.
"A climate that will be as warm as Napa will be in 2050 would be a table grape region today," Jones says. "Now can people adapt over that time? Maybe. But if climates warm to anywhere near what the projections are, it's a table grape region."
On the counter side, Jones says the Puget Sound region of Washington state will have new cool-climate regions akin to what the wine pioneers in Oregon found in the 1960s. He's also excited about the future of Idaho's Snake River Valley*, which won't face the killing frosts that inhibited the industry until this decade.
* (So am I: Read this.)
Jones' advice is sought in most of the world; he just finished a major study in Portugal's Douro Valley, where growers are counting on their many different grape varieties to give them a hedge against warmer temperatures. He says only in the US does he face resistance to the concept of climate change, although he said in many cases wineries deny global warming publicly while admitting their concerns to him privately. If you had invested millions and had looked up the price of table grapes, you'd be concerned too.