Do We Need to Plant Different Grapes For CA Wine to Survive Climate Change?


Even the zealots who obdurately believe that human beings don’t have anything to do with it can’t deny the planet is heating up. Last year was the hottest year in recorded history around the globe and this year is projected to be… wait for it… even hotter.

This has caused an incredible amount of conversation, consternation, and contemplation in the wine industry. While climate change (or climate chaos as some more aptly describe it) doesn’t always mean hotter times, it seems like higher temps and drought may become much more common in California.

That prompts a fundamental question that many wine growers are increasingly asking themselves: what grape varieties should we be thinking about growing in a much hotter world?

Some believe that it will be a while before the wine industry gets to the point that Cabernet Sauvignon won’t grow in Napa or Pinot Noir won’t grow in the Russian River Valley, while others speculate we may be a lot closer to that point than we think. And if we are, what grape varieties should we be thinking about?

These are precisely the topics I was asked to shepherd a group of California winegrowers through as part of a panel I moderated at the 2024 Agriculture and Climate Conference that took place in Santa Rosa on January 17th of this year.

I was joined on stage by some of the most thoughtful people I know in the wine industry, who also have experience growing grapes and making wine from varieties that are much more heat tolerant than most of what is planted in California. My panelists were Dan Petroski of Massican, Randall Grahm of Popelouchum (and other projects), Louisa Sawyer Lindquist of Verdad Wines, Mick Unti of Unti Vineyards, and Gilian Handleman of Jackson Family Wines.

We had a great conversation in the 50 minutes that we were allotted, which you can watch below if you’re interested.

The panel I moderated at the 2024 Agricultural Climate Conference


Feature image created in collaboration with MidJourney AI.

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Source : https://www.vinography.com/2024/03/do-we-need-to-plant-different-grapes-for-ca-wine-to-survive-climate-change