Climate change

Climate change is happening, as it has since God’s creation. You may argue about extent of human contribution, but facts are facts, and you cannot credibly argue it is not happening.

Especially if you own a vineyard.

According to a study, in next 30 years places where California grows fine-wine grapes may shrink because of climate change, while lesser-known regions such as Seattle’s Puget Sound and Oregon’s Willamette Valley will benefit.

Another report predicts a U.S. temperature increase of two to four degrees by 2020 compared with 1970 averages. If you survived summer of 2011, you pray that is all that will happen. We sweated through torridly worse.

Grapes flourish in fairly small environmental window. You can change the grape to accommodate the climate, but that is multi-year adventure. Still, while some regions will suffer from warmer temps, others will benefit.

Winners: Southern England, Canada’s Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Tasmania in Australia, New Zealand’s South Island, Puget Sound near Seattle, Finger Lakes in upstate New York.

Southern England and Canada replace Napa and Bordeaux? Live long enough, anything can happen.

Losers: California, where up to half of the state’s premium wine-grape-growing areas could become too hot to grow high-quality grapes.

Expert reports: “The pace of change projected for this century is far beyond what previous generations of farmers have had to face.”

Message for Texas vineyards: concentrate on warm-climate varieties. They are hot grapes of the future.


• Bodegas Torrederos Tinto Ribera del Duero 2004. Dark ruby; blackberry, brown spice; dark berry, cherry, pepper; decanting clearly helps. $17

• Leitz Dragonstone Riesling 2010. Fresh, pure fruit; baked apple, tart peach, some tropical; minerality galore, crisp, spice; skillfully off dry. $20

• Enkidu Wine Bedrock Zinfandel 2008. Jammy zin; black cherrry, raspberry, cola, jasmine; polite medium body/tannin; high alcohol (15.7%). $33

• Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2008. Dark red-purple; plum, cherry, blackberry, spice, mineral, mint; very firm tannins, dry. $24