Growing Pains: Winemakers Reflect on a Changing Climate

Read the FULL Original Article Posting: Growing Pains: Winemakers Reflect on a Changing Climate
by Laura Ness on March 31, 2023

(Only portions of this article have been posted here.)

In Verde Valley

In the Verde Valley, Arizona, Paula Woolsey and Michael Pierce, both of whom teach enology and viticulture at Yavapai College, shared, “While we face the challenges of spring frosts, summer heat, dry periods, etc., overall the biggest climate-related challenge is the erratic nature of the weather patterns. The climate is simply unstable.” Two seasons of hot and dry were followed by two seasons of monsoons, bringing unusual fungal pressure. The extremes are getting more extreme. “The cultivars most adversely impacted by climate change are early budding and tight-clustered grapes, such as Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel.”

Michael Pierce
Michael Pierce

One of the most renowned experts on the impact of climate change on viticulture is Dr. Greg Jones, who now manages Abacela in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley. Overall, he says, climate change has benefitted Oregon for the last 60 years, with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay adapting nicely. But, he cautions: “How warm is too warm? Issues of heat stress are evident for both varieties as the state now sees more days over 90°F or 95°F than ever and even seeing very extreme heat such as in late June of 2021 Chardonnay evidence worldwide says it has more tolerance to higher temperatures than Pinot Noir, but with either, style differences are likely as the climate continues to warm.”

Paula Woolsey
Paula Woolsey

In Arizona, Woolsey and Pierce tell us, “Cultivars that like the warmth and retain acidity do well in the Verde Valley include Barbera, Aglianico, Malvasia Bianca and Viognier. Many of the Willcox growers have Spanish and Rhône varieties planted, including Grenache, Tempranillo and Mourvèdre. Sonoita vineyards [in Southern Arizona, 25 miles from the Mexican border] is more sensitive to spring frosts and leans towards late-budding varieties.”


Read the FULL Original Article Posting: Growing Pains: Winemakers Reflect on a Changing Climate
by Laura Ness on March 31, 2023

Read more articles related to the growth of the wine industry in the Verde Valley.


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