Vineyard Real Estate and Global Warming

One of the questions I had when making my short documentary on the Livermore Valley wine region related to global warming. Although local winemakers argue that the average temperature has only risen by a few degrees fahrenheit since 1900, the question still remains, are those few degrees enough to have a negative effect on the wine? Wines grown in hot climates (think Lodi, Central Valley, Temecula, etc.) have a different taste than those grown in cooler ones, however, grapes thrive with good amounts of sunshine and heat. When is that extra heat to much?

My wife drew my attention last week to an article in Slate written by By Joel Waldfogel who went on the record as saying that global warming is effecting vineyards around the world, and that soon less valued cooler wine regions will become a hot commodity. Joel’s comments come from a new study, by economists Orley Ashenfelter of Princeton University and Karl Storchmann of Whitman College, that focused on the changes that could take place in Germany’s Mosel Valley. The team concluded that this region near the northern end of the wine belt, which extends between latitudes 35 and 50, would double in value if the temperature rose by 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects further global warming of 2.2-10°F (1.4-5.8°C) by the year 2100. Roe-Roe Raggy!

England sits atop the current wine belt, poised along with Germany for expanded viticulture as temperatures rise. In North America, major grape-growing regions extend along the West Coast from Southern California more or less to the Canadian border. So, warmer temperatures will improve the wine offerings of British Columbia. As the temperatures rise, the losers will likely be at the warm end of the viticulture scale—vineyards in Spain, southern France, southern Italy, and the Napa Valley.

Add Livermore to that list.

Already warm climate regions will have to face many challenges if temperatures continue to rise.

Maybe there is a reason why some wine regions haven’t been able to reach their former glory.