Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Warming video from KQED

Thought I'd pass this link to KQED's Quest website where they have a nice video segment on global warming and how it may affect the Napa and Sonoma counties winegrape production...
(or click on pic to follow)

Of course this raises the question "how does a winemaker pick what varietal to plant in the first place?"...which is a fairly complex subject...

In the past it was part experience, part voodoo and hunch, part market forces...
But this process is now becoming the subject of much research and technological tools once only dreamed of are now available for commercial use. As you can see in the video segment from KQED, NASA satellites are being utilized by scientists looking at warming trends and weather patterns, weather forecasting models are "lightyears" ahead of where they were 30 years ago, IR cameras are readily available, etc...
The vineyard map below is a commercial production of a large vineyard which straddles the Sonoma-Napa county line, created with the help of NASA imagery (2001 press release).
When the map was produced, the vineyard was owned by Mondavi, and was later sold off to KJ after the Constellation purchase of Mondavi (to date, I think KJ still is the owner)...most of the vineyard is (was?) Chard and Pinot, with some other varietal blocks thrown in for experimentation.
The map shows what the resulting vigor of those blocks was after the vineyard was established.
Winemakers can then see what the effects of different rootstock and scion clonal selections are, and make some adjustments later to improve their crop yields, maturity date, irrigation and other vineyard practices...
I'm not sure what the price is to get NASA and Vestra to map your location, but it sure would be a nice tool to see what's happening from an overhead vantage point.
(follow this link to the Vestra interactive map of this site!)

Much of the success of the coast of California (areas with the maritime fog affect) is due to just that: the cold Californian fog which moderates the summer temps we experience, and allows the fruit to keep its acid while developing full ripe flavors. To wit, you can see the fog from yesterday (8/6/07) from this CA visible satellite view:
And this closer detail of the Californian coast (centered roughly over Monterey Bay)...
...if this fog is eliminated by warming ocean temps, then indeed we will be planting a different vine to accommodate that change. If it results in too much change to the summer patterns and we start getting rains, then the vintages will become much more like the EU (France especially) where the winemakers and fruit is under much more stress from the elements.
(Google the news this year where wide swaths of Bordeaux have had several weeks of rain...)


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