Forecasting Change: Here are the impacts a warming climate is having on your wine

Temperature plays huge role for certain types of grapes

FILE In this Friday June 21, 2019 file photo, the sun peaks past almonds growing on the branches of an almond tree in Modesto, Calif. On Monday, July 12, 2021 lawsuits were filed in four California counties seeking potential class-action damages from Dow Chemical and its successor company over a widely used bug killer containing Chlorpyrifos that has been linked to brain damage in children. Chlorpyrifos is approved for use on more than 80 food crops, including oranges, berries, grapes, soybeans almonds and walnuts, though California banned the sales of the pesticide last year and ended spraying this year. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File) (Rich Pedroncelli, Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ORLANDO, Fla. – If you are connoisseur of wine, you probably already know that a change in the temperature creates huge concerns for wine makers.

For high-quality winemaking, producers need three main things: warm temperatures, no frost and no extreme heat.

California produces about 85% of the wine made in the U.S., and holds about 12% of the global wine market.

Look at the warming of our country, especially in California since 1970, the state is wedged between 3 to 4 degrees in warming in the growth season.

Growing season warming

You might be inclined to think this is a good thing. But, high-quality wines can’t be made from grapes that support a balance between the warm days and cool nights.

To get too warm will mean a longer growing season but will make for a less grade of wine. Experts say even a 1-degree change can make the difference between excellent, good, and poor wine.

The chart below shows the real drop in quality based on the temperature where the grapes are grown.

Optimal grape temperatures

Remember, increased fire danger is a direct result of the Global Weirdness we have all been living through in the last few decades.

The fast warming and drying of the land had produced extreme drought conditions across the western U.S., and Napa Valley has fallen to widespread fire damage.

Grapes are sensitive and smoke permeates the membrane of the grape and leads to a smoky, ashy flavor. And the ash tray flavor doesn’t pair well with fish of steak.

Harm grape growing

The impacts on the wine industry could lead to lower production, the relocation of vineyards and more insects and pests.

Estimates are that the production of high-quality grapes could fall as much as 50% in the next 30 years.


About the Author:

Tom Sorrells is News 6's Emmy award winning chief meteorologist. He pinpoints storms across Central Florida to keep residents safe from dangerous weather conditions.