Napa Wineries Face Global Warming


[ CORK POPS ] Graves:
IT’S BELIEVED THAT PINOT NOIR IS 2,000 YEARS OLD. IT’S THOUGHT
THAT IT WAS DESCRIBED BY SOME OF THE ROMANS
WHO CAME TO GAUL — FRANCE — IN THE FIRST CENTURY. Narrator: IF YOU’VE EVER ASKED
A WINERY OWNER TO TALK
ABOUT HIS WINE OF CHOICE, YOU’RE LIKELY TO HAVE BEEN
TREATED TO A RAPTUROUS ODE. Graves: WHAT I LIKE ABOUT IT
IS THAT IT’S CHALLENGING, IT’S SUBTLE, BUT WHEN IT’S GOOD,
IT’S REALLY GOOD. SO IT’S SORT OF WORTH
THE STRUGGLE. Narrator: WHAT YOU’RE
LESS LIKELY TO HAVE HEARD IS THAT GLOBAL WARMING
COULD POSE A THREAT TO COOL-CLIMATE GRAPES,
LIKE THE ESTEEMED PINOT NOIR. Graves: IT’S REALLY
A VERY SPECIAL GRAPE. IT DOESN’T FLOURISH
IN A LOT OF CLIMATES. IT’S NOT A VERY FORGIVING GRAPE. IT TENDS TO LIKE COOLER SPOTS. Narrator:
DAVID GRAVES BEGAN HIS PURSUIT
OF THE PERFECT PINOT NOIR IN 1981 AT SAINTSBURY, THE WINERY HE CO-OWNS
IN NAPA’S CARNEROS REGION. THE MARINE FOG
THAT ENTERS THE BAY BLANKETS CARNEROS
AND MAKES IT AN IDEAL PLACE TO GROW GOOD PINOT NOIR. BUT IF SOME CLIMATE RESEARCHERS’
PREDICTIONS COME TRUE, BY THE END OF THIS CENTURY,
VINTNERS MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO GROW PINOT NOIR
IN NAPA VALLEY. Walker: PERHAPS IN
DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO OR GOLDEN GATE PARK,
FOR INSTANCE, THE BERKELEY HILLS —
ALL AREAS THAT ARE REALLY PROBABLY TOO COLD
FOR VITICULTURE NOW — IF IT GOT DRAMATICALLY WARMER, THOSE MIGHT BE THE LAST PLACES YOU COULD GROW
THE COOL-CLIMATE VARIETIES. Narrator: IF YOU THINK
THAT’S FARFETCHED, CONSIDER THIS — RESEARCHERS FROM STANFORD
AND OTHER UNIVERSITIES ESTIMATE THAT BY 2040, GLOBAL WARMING
IS LIKELY TO CUT IN HALF THE AREA IN NAPA
AND SONOMA VALLEYS SUITABLE TO GROW
ANY TOP-QUALITY WINE GRAPES. AND BY THE END OF THE CENTURY, NEW ENGLAND
AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST COULD BE WARM ENOUGH TO MAKE PREMIUM WINES
OF THEIR OWN. IT’S A FACT OF CHEMISTRY —
TO PRODUCE GOOD WINE, YOU JUST CAN’T HAVE EXTREME HEAT
OR EXTREME COLD. AS GRAPES GROW AND RIPEN, THEY NEED HEAT FOLLOWED BY
A COOLING-OFF PERIOD. THE HEAT PRODUCES THE SUGARS
THAT WILL BECOME ALCOHOL. THE COOLING SLOWS THIS PROCESS
LONG ENOUGH FOR THE COMPOUNDS THAT PRODUCE
THE FLAVORS IN WINE TO DEVELOP. TEMPERATURES ABOVE 95 DEGREES
WITHOUT SUBSEQUENT COOLING DEGRADE COMPOUNDS CALLED
ANTHOCYANINS, WHICH GIVE RED WINES
THEIR DEEP COLOR AND CONTRIBUTE
TO THEIR COMPLEX FLAVORS. Walker:
AS TEMPERATURES INCREASE, THE ANTHOCYANINS
ARE IMPACTED NEGATIVELY. THEIR CHEMICAL STRUCTURE,
THE WAY THEIR BONDS ARE FORMED, ACTUALLY SPLIT AND FALL APART. THOSE CHEMICAL ELEMENTS ARE LITERALLY DROPPING
OUT OF THE WINE AND GOING FROM A DARKER COLOR
TO LIGHTER COLORS. Narrator: WHAT HAPPENS IN NAPA
AND SONOMA VALLEYS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE THEIR HIGH-PRICED GRAPES
CONTRIBUTE CLOSE TO HALF OF THE VALUE
OF CALIFORNIA’S $2.2 BILLION-A-YEAR
WINE-GRAPE HARVEST. BUT THE EXACT IMPACT
OF CLIMATE CHANGE IS DIFFICULT TO PREDICT. AS CALIFORNIA’S INTERIOR
WARMS UP, THE HEAT COULD PULL IN
COOL AIR FROM THE OCEAN, LIKE A GIANT VACUUM CLEANER. Walker: IT MAY ACTUALLY GET
TOO COLD TO GROW GRAPES IN SOME OF THE REGIONS THAT WE
NOW CONSIDER OUR COOL REGIONS BECAUSE OF GREATER AMOUNTS
OF FOG, GREATER AMOUNTS OF COLD AIR BEING PULLED IN THROUGH
THE GOLDEN GATE, FOR INSTANCE, INTO THE CENTRAL VALLEY. Narrator:
WHAT RESEARCHERS DO KNOW IS THAT ONE OF GLOBAL WARMING’S MOST DAUNTING CHALLENGES
FOR CALIFORNIA FARMERS IS WATER AVAILABILITY. THE SIERRA NEVADA’S SNOWPACK, WHICH FILLS RESERVOIRS
EVERY SUMMER, ALREADY HAS BEGUN
TO MELT EARLIER EACH YEAR. AND STATE HYDROLOGISTS SAY IT COULD DECLINE 90% BY 2100. TO DEAL WITH WATER SCARCITY, DAVID GRAVES
AND FARMERS AROUND CALIFORNIA ARE COLLECTING RAINWATER
TO USE IN TIMES OF DROUGHT. THEY’RE ALSO USING TECHNOLOGY TO DETERMINE PRECISELY
WHEN TO IRRIGATE AND HOW MUCH. BUT AT THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA DAVIS, RESEARCHERS ARE PREPARING FOR
A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SCENARIO. THEY’RE LOOKING AT VARIETIES THAT COULD REPLACE
THE COOL-CLIMATE PINOT NOIRS AND CHARDONNAYS OF TODAY. Walker: THIS IS A COLLECTION
OF UNUSUAL VARIETIES — AT LEAST UNUSUAL
TO CALIFORNIA — THAT ARE SOMEWHAT MORE DESIGNED
FOR WARMER CLIMATES. THIS IS MARSANNE, FROM THE SOUTH OF FRANCE
IN THE RHONE REGION. IT’S A WHITE GRAPE.
WE HAVE IT GROWING HERE. MOST OF THESE WARMER-CLIMATE
VARIETIES WE’RE LOOKING AT ARE WHITE VARIETIES,
TRYING TO LOOK AT THEIR ADAPTABILITY
TO HOTTER TEMPERATURES. THEN WE HAVE SOME TORRONTéS, WHICH IS A SPANISH GRAPE
GROWN WIDELY IN ARGENTINA. WE HAVE SOME WINES FROM THAT
TO SHOW YOU TODAY. Narrator: TORRONTéS
IS NOT YOUR PARENTS’ WINE UNLESS, THAT IS, YOUR PARENTS
ARE FROM SPAIN OR ARGENTINA. BUT IT COULD VERY WELL TURN OUT
TO BE YOUR CHILDREN’S WINE. WELL, THE FIRST WINE,
A TORRONTéS… Narrator: WELCOME TO THE
WINE TASTING OF THE FUTURE. Brenneman: THIS WINE HAS VERY AROMATIC CHARACTERS
IN THE BOUQUET AND SOME CITRUS
AND GRAPEFRUIT CHARACTERS. AND IT HAS A NICE SPICY FINISH. Narrator:
IT TAKES THREE TO FOUR YEARS BEFORE A VINE
STARTS TO PRODUCE GRAPES. SO REPLACING VARIETIES IS A BIG INVESTMENT
FOR WINE MAKERS. AND NEW VARIETIES PRESENT
OTHER CHALLENGES. SAY YOU FIND THIS SPICY,
NEW WHITE WINE ON THE WINE LIST. DO YOU KNOW
HOW TO PRONOUNCE ITS NAME? Guerra:
THIS WINE, WE SAY — IN SPANISH,
WE CALL IT TORRONTéS. YOU EMPHASIZE, YOU PUT THE
STRESS ON THE LAST SYLLABLE. TORRONTéS. Brenneman:
WELL, LET’S TRY THE SECOND WINE. VERDELHO IS VERY MUCH DIFFERENT THAN YOUR CHARDONNAY,
SAUVIGNON BLANC, AND PINOT GRIGIO. IT HAS SOME GRASSY CHARACTERS
TO IT. Walker:
NICE AROMATIC CHARACTERS, BOTH IN THE MOUTH AND THE NOSE. Walker:
CHARDONNAY, SAUVIGNON BLANC,
CABERNET, MERLOT, THE WINES WE KNOW AS
INTERNATIONAL VARIETIES — THOSE HAVE REALLY
BEEN MARKETED WELL AND ACCEPTED WELL
AROUND THE WORLD. IT’S EASIER TO SELL THOSE WINES. IT’S EASIER FOR PEOPLE TO KNOW
THEM AND UNDERSTAND THEM AND PURCHASE THEM, TOO. Narrator: THAT’S WHY
CALIFORNIA’S PRODUCTION OF THE WELL-ESTABLISHED
PINOT NOIR QUADRUPLED FROM 2003 TO 2013. GROWERS HAVE EVEN PLANTED
THIS COOL-CLIMATE GRAPE IN THE HOT CENTRAL VALLEY. AT THE SAME TIME,
LARGE WINE COMPANIES HAVE STARTED INVESTIGATING THE POSSIBILITY OF CULTIVATING
WARM-CLIMATE VARIETIES NEW TO CALIFORNIA. ONE OF THE WORLD’S LARGEST
WINE AND BEER COMPANIES, CONSTELLATION BRANDS, IS COLLABORATING WITH UC DAVIS
ON THIS RESEARCH. CALIFORNIA’S WINE GROWERS,
LARGE AND SMALL, ARE PREPARING FOR THE VINEYARD
OF THE FUTURE. Graves: YOU NEED TO BE VERY
FLEXIBLE ABOUT YOUR APPROACH. YOU NEED TO LOOK
VERY FAR AND WIDE FOR VARIETIES
THAT MAY BE SUCCESSFUL IN THE CLIMATES OF 2080. YOU NEED TO BE VERY SKILLFUL AT ADAPTING
TO CHANGING CONDITIONS. YOU HAVE TO BE VERY SKILLFUL
AT ADOPTING NEW TECHNOLOGIES. IT’S PRETTY CLEAR THAT CHANGE IS THE CONSTANT
IN THIS WHOLE THING.

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