Friday, April 12, 2013

Napa Vintners Do Care About Climate Change

Since 2006, numerous studies and headlines have repeatedly positioned Napa Valley as a poster child for the devastating effects of climate change. The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) trade association, known for nearly 70 years in the global wine industry for its forward-thinking leadership on tough issues and protection of the unique place that is Napa Valley, has made no exception when it comes to the topic of climate change.

Understanding how climate change might affect our region specifically is critical to the future of the Napa Valley wine industry, which generates $50 billion for the U.S. economy and more than 300,000 jobs in our country. So the NVV decided in 2006 to form a Climate Change Task Force to better understand the issue. The task force was led by Dr. Dan Cayan and his renowned team of climate scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

Working with vintners, growers and weather stations around Napa Valley, the Scripps science team collected data from 12,000 points in Napa Valley and from this massive collection of grass-roots data, assembled its final report:
"Climate and Phenology in Napa Valley: A Compilation and Analysis of Historical Data" by Dan Cayan, Kimberly Nicholas, Mary Tyree and Michael Dettinger.

The report, released in February 2011, indicates that Napa Valley has warmed slightly over recent decades, but not to the degree that has been reported in the studies noted above, which analyze broader California weather station data. According to the Napa Valley-specific data analyzed for our report, the warming we have experienced, one to two degrees Fahrenheit, has taken place primarily in overnight temperatures between the months of January to August. In fact, Napa Valley has actually experienced cooler daytime temperatures and increased marine fog influence during the summer growing season in recent years.
Although part of the greater California wine industry, Napa Valley is a unique place and is best understood by looking at appellation-specific data. Climate change can and will affect all fine wine-growing regions worldwide, but the results will not necessarily be a blanket effect, as climate change is not a "one size fits all" phenomenon. This is a very long-term issue which vintners and growers around the world need to pay attention to and be directly involved with. At the end of the day, vintners and grape growers are farmers. As no two harvests are the same, farmers must successfully adapt, harvest to harvest, season to season, year to year and have done so for nearly two centuries in the Napa Valley, and for many thousands of years worldwide. For the farmer, change is not only inevitable; it is a way of life.

Patsy McGaughy
Communications Director
Napa Valley Vintners

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