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Tuesday Tributes
Global Warming No Longer A Threat To California Wine

By Charles Olken

Global warming, or “climate change” if you want to be politically correct is a real threat to the wine industry. We rely on the match of location and grape to produce quality wines. The possibility that the relationships we have come to know could be upset by mother nature is disturbing to say the least.

But no longer. Consider this news squib hidden away over the Thanksgiving holiday.

“As you contemplate that Thanksgiving wine you relished on Thursday, ponder for a moment a world too hot to grow fine grapes. Dr. Sanliang Gu does every day.”

For a dozen years his obsession has been to manipulate the growing cycle of grapes around Fresno, California’s hottest and therefore earliest-ripening wine region. This week he succeeded: the 2011 vintage that normally would have been picked in July or August came off the vines two days before Thanksgiving — about three weeks after Napa’s weather-delayed harvest ended”.

Now, I worry about grape manipulation. If Fresno now picks in November, when will coastal vineyards be picked? I like long-hanging fruit as much as the next guy, but January is a little too late for me.

Admittedly, this column is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but only because we do not know the details about the Fresno trials. The topic itself, how to slow down the ripening trend in California vineyards, is not something about which I joke. A way or ways need to be found that will enable us to pick physiologically ripe grapes at lower sugars and thus to make lower alcohol wines.

And while not all wine needs to be low-alcohol or even lower alcohol, it would not hurt the grapes if gambits existed that allow the wineries more choice in how and when grapes ripen than now exists. To date, conversations have focused on rootstocks, yeasts, trellising and water just to name the most talked about. Modified grapes have seemed beyond the range of discussion until now. We need to know more about what happened in Fresno, and we need to know whether delayed ripening has anything to do with ripening at lower Brix levels.

Come to think about it a bit more, I am still worried about climate change.

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No Subject
by Andrzej Daszkiewicz
Posted on:11/28/2011 7:32:20 PM

Apparently the idea is to get rid of the first crop early enough to force the vines to give another, late, low Brix crop.

Greetings from Poland!

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