Global Warming – Friend or Foe?

Global warming may still be a
controversial theory in politics and science, but winemakers are
believers. Rising temperatures and changing climates are being credited
‚€“ at least in part ‚€“ with improvements in wine quality in unusual or
new regions, while vintners in more established regions are worried
that Mother Nature will pass them by.
Virginia has had four strong vintages in a row, unprecedented in the Old
Dominion‚€™s 400 years of winemaking (or at least, in the 30 years
they‚€™ve been really serious about it). The 2003 vintage looms as
global warming‚€™s flip side ‚€“ record rainfalls, including a hurricane
at harvest time that left many wines dilute.
California‚€™s grape sugars ‚€“ and alcohol content in the wine ‚€“ have
been rising slightly but perceptibly in recent vintages. Vineyard
practices contribute to this trend, as do market forces, but
temperatures remain a factor.
“I like global warming,‚€ Bruno Eynard, winemaker at Chateau Lagrange
in St. Julien, told me last year, giving climate change partial credit
at least for a string of good harvests this decade. ‚€œBut I want it to
stop now,‚€ he said, ‚€œor I‚€™ll be making Bordeaux in England!‚€
Last week, Dr. Richard Smart, the famed Australian viticulturist, raised
the possibility that our favorite wines may already have been
irreparably altered by global warming.
“I would ask anyone with a cellar full of known value wines, have you
thought about the fact that in Bordeaux, we may have already seen the
best vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon?” Smart said at the 2008 Climate
Change and Wine Conference in Barcelona, Spain.
According to,
Smart said many famous wine regions may soon be unsuitable for their
most noted grape varieties. He predicted that Argentina and Chile will
be ‚€œlucky‚€ because the preponderance of oceans in the Southern
Hemisphere will moderate the changes. And China‚€™s cold, barren north
may be the Napa Valley of the future.
At least then, we‚€™d know what wine to drink with Chinese food.

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