|Areas in red are projected to be unsuitable for wine grapes by 2050|
I saw this on the TV news in the morning. There are wire-service stories from other states about it: people in Montana are excited about being the next Bordeaux. So I went to Wine Business.com, my go-to for wine news, expecting to see lots of California industry reactions.
I saw Steve Heimoff, who I don't believe to be a Tea Party guy, essentially denying that global warming in California is happening. And other than that, nothing.
Granted, global warming doesn't sound so terrifying after northern California had back-to-back cool years in 2010 and 2011. But still, with land prices at well over $200,000 an acre, you'd think people would be more worried. What's Napa Valley land going to be worth if the grapes aren't suitable for premium wines? Why isn't this a big deal?
Take a look at that map of the northern West Coast. Red areas are ones where wine grapes are grown now that are not projected to be suitable by 2050. Green areas are suitable now, and should stay suitable. Blue areas are currently too cold for wine grapes, but are expected to be suitable by 2050. So the overall picture for the West Coast is pretty good, especially for Oregon. Washington could face disruption but unlike California, it should gain a lot more vineyard land than it loses.
But that picture for California is unequivocally bad. So why aren't more people concerned?
Some of it, surprising from a state that arguably leads the world in agricultural technology, is flat-out denial of the projection, as espoused by Heimoff. Maybe the interior of California will get warmer, but that will just bring in more fog. Maybe that's true. I'm certainly not a scientist, I can't run a global-warming model.
You know who is, and can? The 9 authors of this National Academy of Sciences study.
So denying that Napa Valley is going to be too warm for viticulture, it's denying science. Now, this may be right: phrenology was once a science. And global warming projections are based on complex models that don't all agree. Still, this puts the California wine establishment in an unusual position philosophically.
I wasn't going to blog about this because I was busy trying to finish some articles for other publications, and figured by the time I got to it, there would be something published about how California's wine industry plans to deal with the issue.
If anyone knows of such plans, I'd like to hear them. In the meantime, in the words of Chicken Little, may I just say ... nah, why bother, just pass the Cabernet.