We do not wish to join the global warming debate. Vinesse employs people who sit on opposite sides of the issue, and even a few whose opinions are right in the middle.
But if it’s real and if it’s happening, could global warming eventually impact winegrape growing? Could regions now recognized for producing world-class wines see their climates change to the point that the quality of their wines declines? Could other regions emerge as new hotbeds (no pun intended) of winegrowing?
Temecula vintner Peter Poole recently addressed that topic in a letter to the Los Angeles Times. We thought you might like to read what a winemaker with nearly 30 harvests under his belt had to say about global warming. Here is the text of his letter, as published in the Times:
I have been a vintner and winegrower for almost 29 years in Temecula. From 1973 until 1984, the harvest and crush here began in the first three weeks of September. For the next 15 years, harvest began in August – often the first or second week. Since 1985, we’ve had only one harvest season begin in September. That’s a huge change.
Most years, Temecula Valley viticulture closely tracks with the state’s other wine regions. The overriding reason for the earlier harvest is earlier bud break. If the weather begins warming up in February and early March, the vines will start growing, and normal grape development will result in an earlier harvest.
Earlier bud break brings us to a period of normal maturity culminating during warmer months. If the winery decides to give the grapes extended “hang time” for maturity, it does so under weather conditions likely to produce elevated sugar levels easily. Conversely, if the extended “hang time” occurs toward the end of what used to be considered a normal season, the grapes mature at a later date while the weather is turning cool and the angle of the sun is lower in the sky, so high grape sugars are no longer so easy for the vine to achieve as the grapes mature.