John Williams of Frog’s Leap was recently profiled in the Atlantic, a relatively respected journal of our times. John is a fantastic winemaker, and he lives his green ethos like no one else in Napa, and perhaps in the entire industry.
Yet even he finds himself getting annoyed by the questions from Atlantic environmental-advocate-cum-journalist Mark Hertsgaard.
…[D]espite his environmental fervor, Williams dismisses questions about preparing Frog’s Leap for the impacts of climate change. “We have no idea what effects global warming will have on the conditions that affect Napa Valley wines, so to prepare for those changes seems to me to be whistling past the cemetery,” he says, a note of irritation in his voice. “All I know is, there are things I can do to stop, or at least slow down, global warming, and those are things I should do.”
This, surely, is not the pull quote Hertsgaard was looking for when he pitched his editor at Atlantic on a trip to Napa for a story confirming the dire consequences of global warming for “every business on earth.”
Still, Hertsgaard, in need of fodder to pimp his new book and thoroughly committed to his viewpoint after 20 years of global warming activism, soldiers on.
If you can get past the head-slappingly obvious title and the breathtakingly cliche use of “the Roman” bon mot in vino veritas, you will be rewarded with…Armageddon. Natch. Remember, there is a book to be sold.
the ski industry — which appears doomed in its current form — is more visibly targeted by the hot, erratic weather that lies in store over the next 50 years. In France, the rise in temperatures may render the Champagne region too hot to produce fine champagne. The same is true for the legendary reds of ChÃ¢teauneuf du Pape, where the stony white soil’s ability to retain heat, once considered a virtue, may now become a curse. The world’s other major wine-producing regions — California, Italy, Spain, Australia — are also at risk.
Too hot to produce fine Champagne? We grow some delicious pinot for sparkling wines in the Russian River, where the climate is hotter than Champagne. It goes into Gloria Ferrer’s high end Brut Rose. Delicious, fine stuff.
CdP cursed? The warmer it gets, the higher the points. 100 points, bro! I’ll take some of that curse please.
Hertsgaard even acknowledges that during the Medieval warm period the folks in England were making sparkling wines (don’t call it Champagne, Mark). He is also implicitly acknowledging that the current warming is not at all unprecedented in the history of wine growing, which is quite an admission.
Does he not realize that “recent trends” are not statistically significantly warmer? Or that, depending on where you pick your start date, there has been a recent global cooling trend?
The truth is that CO2 is good for plants. The truth is that warmer temps are good for both plants and humans. Every major leap in both agriculture and human culture has coincided with some form of global warming. Indeed, it is much preferable to be warm than to be too cold.
And the truth is winegrowers and winemakers know it. Consider this quote from the article:
Pancho Campo, the founder and president of the Wine Academy of Spain, says “They are getting almost perfect ripeness every year now for Tempranillo. This makes the winemakers say, ‘Who cares about climate change? We are getting perfect vintages.’ The same thing has happened in Bordeaux. It is very difficult to tell someone, ‘This is only going to be the case for another few years.’”
Winemakers know. They know! These are boom times for wine quality, and it is undeniable.
Still, folks like Pancho Campo feel the need to piss on the parade by declaring the party will soon end. Only the case for another few years? Based on what evidence? The recent cooling trend? Or the climate models that don’t account for solar cycles, ocean oscillations, clouds, and water vapor?
No one I know of denies that there is warming. Not one AGW skeptic, not even the frothing right-wing nut jobs.
What is in violent dispute among researchers, however, is the cause of the warming (some combination of anthropogenic and natural causes) and whether or not the current warming is unprecedented.
Moreover, even assuming there is a cause for alarm, doomsday deadlines for adaptation and change have come and gone repeatedly. Based on the climate models we are already too far gone to make an impactful change on CO2 emissions.
Thankfully, research shows that CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere trails global warming, not the other way around. You read that right: warming occurs first, CO2 increases second.
White wine may well disappear from some regions. Climate-sensitive reds such as pinot noir are also in trouble. It’s not too late for winemakers to save themselves through adaptation. But it’s disconcerting to see so much dawdling in an industry with so much incentive to act. If winemakers aren’t motivated to adapt to climate change, what businesses will be?
What incentive to act, precisely? At our vineyard we’ve gone through 3 consecutive years with losses due to late season frost. The land we purchased up north in anticipation of future warming years ago is un-plantable due to the chilly conditions. Temp logs show no warming. In fact they show cooling. I welcome warming.
Every incentive is to welcome warming. We’re talking easier growing periods, higher yields where appropriate, riper fruit, higher scores, more sales.
This isn’t rocket surgery. And consider the alternative.
Going green did make the renovation cost 30 percent more, Lageder says
Going green, in this context, is madness. In this economy there is no money to spend on speculative hand waving. Conserving resources is a laudable goal (the recycling, responsible water use, less reliance on fossil fuels), but investing in wind turbines and huge solar arrays simply isn’t feasible economically. I do not have 30%. I don’t know anyone who does right now.
“Most of us are not very good at recognizing our risks until we are hit by them,” explains Chris West, the director of the UK government’s Climate Impact Program. “People who run companies are no different.” Before joining UKCIP in 1999, West had spent most of his career working to protect endangered species. Now, the species he is trying to save is his own
Who is this Chris West? Dear Lord, the man is daft. And a bureaucrat. But I repeat myself. Business owners make their money based on risk!
Entrepreneurs are paid because they actively seek out risk where others fear to tread. They capture economic surplus based on risk. They are paid when their risky activities succeed.
Sheer pablum, and a fitting end to a flacid and inane bit of environmental journalism.