No More Napa Valley Wines?

This week’s Ask A Science Blogger deals with global warming and wine production:

I heard that within 15 years, global warming will have made Napa County too hot to grow good wine grapes. Is that true? What other changes are we going to see during our lifetimes because of global warming?…

I am not a climate scientist, and I don’t know enough about viticulture to offer an informed response regarding the effects of temperature changes on grape production. I do know, however, that Napa Valley wines tend to be very generic stereotypes of the European varieties they’re imitating. This wouldn’t be terrible, except that they are a bit too pricey for what you get. I’m usually a big fan of Chardonnay (or pretty much anything dry), but the Napa productions that I’ve tried taste of oak chips and artificial fruitiness. Don’t get me wrong, I like an oakey Chardonnay, but there’s a limit to how much tree I can tolerate in my wine. As long as South American (cheap), Australian (well priced), and Burgundy (best tasting) vineyards aren’t affected by global warming, I’ll be happy.

P.S. Yes, I realize that global warming will probably affect wine making all over the world. This post is mostly about my distaste for California wines (and American wines in general) rather than an intelligent commentary on global warming.


  1. #1 Steinn Sigurdsson
    July 31, 2006

    Ok. Now you just have to come over to our place sometime and try some good California wine.
    The worry in the question was for the Pinot Noir grapes, I believe, although Chardonnay would take a hit too I suspect.

  2. #2 coturnix
    July 31, 2006

    The only California wines I like are sweet, fruity reislings, which are nice chilled on hot summer evenings when you don’t want to be too serious with your wine. I prefer my reds rich, full and dry, though, and California just does not cut it in that department.

  3. #3 RPM
    July 31, 2006

    Upstate NY is better known for Reislings — cooler climate than Napa. I can’t stand residual sugar, so I’ve never been a big fan of the sweeter wines most americans seem to prefer.

  4. #4 iGollum
    July 31, 2006

    Ooh, speaking of California wines, I’m going to be in the San Francisco area for a conference in September. This little European is looking for a bit of (viti)cultural exchange, so I’d like to visit some vineyards… any tips on what’s worth a daytrip and what’s not? (I’m into Pinot Noir -unreasonably so, I’m afraid- or anything not too sweet)

  5. #5 Steinn Sigurdsson
    August 1, 2006

    Bonny Doon.
    Pleasant drive down the coast. Great tasting room.
    Fabulous eclectic wines.
    Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards is worth a visit if you like Serious Reds.
    Or you could just meander through Napa and Sonoma like everyone else.

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