This is a question I often ask myself: “How will global warming effect my grape business in the future?” I know there are some of you that think this whole “global warming” thing gets way to much attention and there is nothing to worry about.

Whether you believe in or worry about global warming or not, the facts are that earth’s temperature is rising!

I certainly noticed climate changes since I’ve started farming way back in ’92 (wow, scary to think I’ve been growing grapes for 16 years 😐

When I spoke to my dad about his early days on our farm, he said that they packed Barlinka grapes (an old black seeded variety) until week 24 to week 26! I still grow a patch (about 0.8 hectares) of Barlinka, but the latest I pack them in recent years are +- week 18! That is quite a difference!  It is a known fact that grapes mature quicker in hotter climates, so could this be an indication how much global warming is affecting our business?

Read this article I found on the Daily Green website:

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What scientists believe will happen at the end of this century

Thanks to global warming, well established wine-producing regions such as California’s Napa and Sonoma Valley as well as Northern France’s Burgundy region may be facing tough times ahead. The frequency of extremely hot days across the globe is beginning to redefine wine production as we know it and could prove disastrous for many famed wine grape growers.

Too hot days are wreaking havoc on grapes and growing conditions. Grapes used in premium wines need a consistent climate; even the smallest changes in temperature can mean the difference in taste and quality between an expensive wine produced by century old vines and those used for some ubiquitous cooking wine. Findings in a paper published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this year state that within the U.S., regions that are suitable for growing premium wine grapes may be reduced by 50% and quite possibly by over 80% by the end of the century if warming trends continue on as expected.

No where has this been felt more than by winemakers in California’s Napa Valley. According to an article in USA Today, “In Napa, the minimum temperature has gone up nearly 5 degrees over the past 75 years, while growing season has increased by more than 50 days.” Because of increased temperatures, a grape’s necessary natural fermentation is advanced thus making them harvest-ready all the sooner.

Crush season is happening earlier for many as a result. Once seen as a September ritual, grapes are now ripening at a faster rate and a month earlier than normal and require harvesting during the night when temperatures are cooler. Those vineyards set in climates more conducive to wine grape growing in the U.S. are faring well and may usurp some of Northern California’s claim to the multi-million dollar wine industry. Upstate New York’s Finger Lake region, Long Island’s North Fork as well as Washington State’s Puget Sound and both Michigan’s coastal zone and Virginia wine-making regions aren’t as affected by the warming trends just yet.

Article from the Daily Green Website http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/6296

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Is global warming all bad for growing grapes?

Nope, some areas are actually benefiting from this.  If we look at countries like Canada, some wine growers there now plant grape varieties that would previously never survive their cold winters!

In the northern province of Champagne in France, the annual average daily temperature changed from 10.3 ºC to almost 12ºC over the last couple of years and this temperature changes, actually improved the quality of the champagne made there.

In the end, the rising temperatures may force growers to manage vines differently to produce similar wine styles or quality, or to plant different varieties better suited to the changing climate.

What should we do?  I really don’t know, but one thing is for sure; we grape growers need to adapt to these climate changes to keep us in the game!  We need to constantly look at things like canopy management, disease control and vine vigour, to keep our grape vine in the best shape ever.

Enjoy the weekend.

Danie

Facing the changes in the climate alone isn’t fair!

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