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Chardonnay and Climate Change

Climate change. It’s whispered about by winemakers. Others don’t really to even whisper about it, but we all know it’s there. I’ll be running a series of chats about climate change and how it may change the way our favorite grapes are consumers and really, grown and vinified.

First up in that series, is everyone’s favorite grape: Chardonnay.

Hi all Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures so coming back at it finally so this week, I’ve been writing a little bit about climate change in the wine industry and it’s coming and winemakers are aware of it and some are starting to make some adjustments to what they’re doing because of it.

In some regions of the world namely France there’s only so many adjustments that can be done when a few theological choices in regard to climate change have been taken away most namely you can’t change what you’re planting if you’re only allowed a number of grapes and you can only plant in a certain area.

So I think in California when we start talking about climate change Chardonnay is something that comes up often with people and overall on climate change there’s kind of two things that we’re gonna see happen.

So first, areas that are considered marginal now are going to be considered better over time. Stuff that’s too cold now might not be too cold in a decade or two.

Second higher altitude is going to come into play because as temperature rises altitude is one of the few ways that winemakers and growers can keep grapes acidity.

So what are we going to see specifically for shards so I though this is Trail Marker wine was a pretty good example so it’s a really small production wine it’s sourced from the Santa Cruz Mountains and so that’s kind of what an area that we don’t necessarily think of in terms of a world-class growing region although it is and has been since the Judgment of Paris.

The Santa Cruz Mountains were not well well before that but you know it is a mountainous region it’s hard to get into it’s hard to get out of it’s hard to get people into and out of but what you get is then you get a higher acidity wine.

The fact that as you allow it(ie the grape) to ripen you lose acidity so winemakers have a really crucial choice about when to pick and keep as much acidity as possible.

Growing at altitude like in the Santa Cruz Mountains might allow them to keep acidity while allowing the grapes to ripen more and that’s one part diurnal temperature differences ie it’s colder at night in the mountains of the Valley.

Then secondly there is something just intrinsic to altitude and grapes that seems to happen there’s a lot of research ongoing with that mostly being done in South America the Chileans are kind of at the forefront they have a Pinot vineyard planted the vineyard at the end of the world so-called it’s at 10,000 feet up in elevation which is something that we wouldn’t even consider in the United States.

So the second thing you’re going to see insofar in Chard is how, other than different growing places, you’re also gonna see different winemaking styles coming into play.

I think the other obvious thing that’s gonna happen is that you’re going to see more sparkling wine and so this is a growing market as it is and then secondly we do have to take a second and remember that some of the most successful American sparklers grew it is a great example and those grapes are grown in New Mexico state and the state of Arizona.

Arizona specifically has a number of winemakers doing some really interesting things combining altitude with desert temperatures and I think you’re gonna see more of that for vineyard locations that are just too damn hot compared to what they used to be.

So once again Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures and we’ll have some more climate change kind of stuff coming up you know I know this can be a thorny a political issue at times but we’re just gonna go with the scientific consensus that the earth is warming and we’re causing it.

That’s what I believe and I think that’s what most of my customers would believe and even if we’re not causing it frankly doesn’t matter because it’s happening.

So once again, Mark Aselstine with Uncorked Ventures I hope everybody might think a little longer about what their Chardonnay might look like in the next few years.

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