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Climate change may cool Napa Valley, says study

The Napa Valley may be set to become cooler as a consequence of climate change, according to a new in-depth study carried out for the local vintners’ association.

Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) was prompted to commission the study – Climate and Phenology in Napa Valley: A Compilation and Analysis of Historical Data – by 2006 research which suggested the area would soon become too warm to produce fine wine.

NVV said the original research, led by Bernard Seguin of France’s national agricultural institute INRA, had focused on just a few weather stations in the valley, giving a misleading impression of the overall climatic trend.

NVV’s four-year study, covering more than 12,000 data reports, found that average temperatures had only increased by one or two degrees Fahrenheit over the past several decades, mostly affecting the night rather than daytime.

‘The results, overall, provide good short-term news that consumers are not “tasting” climate change in Napa Valley wines,” said NVV.

Christopher Howell of Cain Vineyard & Winery, a climate study task force member, described the Pacific Ocean as Napa’s ‘greatest temperature control’, with cool air being sucked up the valley as temperatures in the Central Valley rise.

‘There is a suggestion by some climate scientists that, as the interior areas warm in the future, Napa temperatures may actually remain relatively moderate, or even cool as maritime air gets drawn further up the valley,’ he said.

‘Either way, warmer or cooler, it’s different than what we’re experiencing today – so as prudent farmers we need to look at all of our possible scenarios and consider best practices to continue to grow the best wine grapes.’

Written by Richard Woodard

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