Winegrowers, with their knowledge of which cultivation techniques are most appropriate in a given climate, could benefit from the study's forecasts of temperature conditions, Diffenbaugh said.
"Climate change over the next few decades is of particular relevance for the wine industry," he said. "It's a big investment to put plants in the ground. They're slow to mature, and once they mature they're productive for a long time."
Some decisions growers make now could affect their vineyards in 30 years, he added, whether they consider the potential effects of local climate change or not. Moving a vineyard to a cooler location or planting different varietals could be costly for winegrowers, the study said. But in areas where less drastic temperature change is likely, growers may be able to maintain the quality of their grapes by using existing cultivation and winemaking techniques, Diffenbaugh said. Possible strategies include special trellis systems that shade vines, using irrigation to cool plants and adjusting fermentation processes in the winery.
"It's risky for a grower to make decisions that consider climate change, because those decisions could be expensive and the climate may not change exactly as we expect," Diffenbaugh said. "But there's also risk in decisions that ignore global warming, because we're finding that there are likely to be significant localized changes in the near term."
"Humans are amazingly resilient, and individual growers will of course make decisions as they read the signs on the ground," he added. "We're trying to understand how the climate that works so well for growing great wine grapes right now might be affected by even modest global warming. We can't know the future before it happens, but if we don't ask the question, we may be surprised when reality unfolds."
|Contact: Mark Shwartz|