The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Community News Network

January 7, 2013

Global warming causes big headache for winemakers

To paraphrase Shakespeare, in the vineyards of the world, something worrisome this way comes. Over the last decade, global warming has started affecting those narrow zones best suited for growing wine grapes.

Warmer temperatures are a mixed blessing for winemakers. In colder climates like Bordeaux and Burgundy, more heat can increase sugars in the grapes.

Richard Snyder, a biometeorology specialist at the University of California, Davis, speaking at last year's Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, said a three degrees centigrade increase in temperature would create more carbon dioxide in the air, aiding photosynthesis and prolonging frost-free growing seasons.

The bad news, said Snyder, is that higher temperatures can bring more droughts to the Mediterranean and California.

Unlike so-called broad acre crops such as soybeans and wheat, wine grapes are a "niche crop that can only been grown in certain areas," says Gregory V. Jones, professor and research climatologist in the Department of Environmental Studies at Southern Oregon University.

"The issue today is, when we talk of global warming, we talk about humans' contribution, which is occurring at a much faster rate than in recorded history. What we used to consider a one-in-50-year drought is now more commonplace. The extreme heat of 2012 in the U.S. was a one-in-1,600- year event," he says.

Axel Heinz, director of production for Super Tuscan wine Ornellaia, said the prolonged European heat wave in the summer of 2003 was what alerted first producers to what was going on.

"The weather is now getting more and more extreme and unpredictable with sudden heat spikes, long lasting drought periods and violent and unpredictable rainfalls," he said.

Such spikes are forcing winemakers to adapt. Heinz has observed an accelerating trend of increased sugar levels leading to higher alcohol levels in the past five years.

Text Only
Community News Network
Featured Ads
Promotions
Poll

Does Dallas head coach Jason Garrett need for the Cowboys to make the playoffs during the 2014 football season to keep his job?

Yes
No
Who knows with Jerry Jones as owner?
     View Results
Facebook
Must Read
Photos


See more photos and purchase prints here.

AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide