Factors Affecting Wine Production in California

However, the number of wineries in the country has doubled in the past decade. Comparable to other food-sector companies, a range of economic and marketing factors are contributing to either a decrease of the wine sold directly to consumers or large enough to create some doubts in distributors and retailers. On the contrary, there is a threat posed to the wine industry based on a climate change. This has a great impact on the future of the industry.

There is no doubt that nowadays the climate is changing. A range of studies have estimated the impending effects of the climate change in future. As a wide range of main uncertainties remain, the harshness of the challenges presented by the climate shift though call for an immediate attention of policy makers globally and locally. It is done in order to make a total transformation so that the situation can be combated. In California, specifically, scientists have forecasted climate states of Northern and Southern California according to the current trends of greenhouse emissions. According to their statistics, summer and winter temperatures are warmer with the temperatures varying from 0.5 decrees Celsius to 2.1 decrees Celsius for the next 25 years. Regardless of what assumptions an individual makes based on some prospective emissions, temperatures and water levels are transforming in a way that may endanger most of the climate-sensitive industries. It includes the fruit, nut, vegetable, and grain firms that prove imperative to the economy of the state. In this analysis, a main focus is on the way future climatic changes will impact on the production of wine grapes. Some of the intervention measures can be undertaken by the country.

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According to the above mentioned condition, two critical questions to be answered are the following ones.

What will be a future effect of the climate change on the wine production?

What steps can be undertaken by the state to help the wine industry alleviate the situation?

In response to the questions, it is crucial for us to focus mainly on the major premium grape growing areas of California and seven most produced premium grape varieties in these areas. The first question can be answered through a review of the previous literature on the industry, and carry out interviews with stakeholders within the wine industry. Also, one may use an original quantitative model to confirm that temperature, precipitation and cultural diversity are the key sources of uncertainty when it comes to a future effect of the climate change on the wine production. The second question finds some support through development and evaluation of a list of five policy options based on the background research and interviews. In the lieu of uncertainties in the future climatic and cultural conditions, we establish the options that offer the solutions to any scenarios. They have to be implemented within the shortest time possible.

A background research and regression outcomes confirm that temperature and precipitation changes are the crucial climatic factors. They will affect grapes and wine production in future. The two factors are in essence key determinants of prospective grape prices and productivity. Interviews carried out with major stakeholders indicate a number of issues. In a short term, water supply will be the most critical challenge. In a long term, the temperature change will be the biggest concern. There is a considerable need for the state to play a key role in assisting the industry adapting to the impending climate change.

With regard to the policies developed, the state can play a major role in helping the industry in a range of ways. First, the state should increase a funding for a research based on adaptation matters. The latter ones may include water management, a variety change, new clones, shade management, and trellising strategies. Second, the country can develop a Grape and Wine Adaptation Program to discuss, assess, and share information on an adjustment research and strategies through a range of seminars and initiatives. Thirdly, the state should approve an extension of water storage facilities. It should as well establish tax incentives to encourage the industry shift to other suitable climatic conditions or plant additional vineyards in cooler regions of California. Lastly, the state has to maintain a status quo. Through this, it will have comprehensive and efficient strategies to help the wine industry adjust to the effect of the climate change.

The Effect of Climate on Grapes

Some elements of the climate, weather conditions prevailing in a region, in general, over a long period of time, that are most significant to viticulture include temperature, the changes in the day and night temperatures. Besides, there are the variation between winter and summer heat, sunlight, rainfall, humidity, and wind included. Each of these aspects of the climate is important to grape and, hence, the wine production. For instance, particular grape varieties (predominantly those used for premium wines) only survive within limited, distinct temperature variations. Generally, grapes can either be cool or warm varieties according to particular temperature thresholds. While these sills can be slightly stretched through creative management strategies or cloning of available varieties, the implication is that despite the wine tastes and needs, grape growers are primarily controlled by the climate of their growing regions.

An important theory that can be used to support this research is a market failure. At the moment, California is facing water shortage attributed to the climate change. This has devastating spillover costs in the wine production industry. Changes in the trends of the climate have resulted in several water basins in the larger Californian area to drastically decrease. Apart from the climate change that affects water basins, the consumption of the available and limited water supply is somewhat reckless. At the moment, there is no motivation by farmers or wineries to limit their use of water. A decrease in watering of their crops will result to less production and decreased profitability within the wine industry.

Based on available literature reviews, California wine industry is basically dependent on the state’s unique climate for the survival. A large extent of the country’s coastline is too cold to ripen grapes. The Central Valley experiences elevated temperatures. It is always sunny hindering growth of anything. On the contrary, Northern California has a cooling impact that creates a favorable environment for agriculture, especially when it comes to premium grapes cultivated in Napa, Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino counties. This has been good until recently when a shift in the climate has posed a threat amongst farmers as to whether it will strengthen, weaken, or distort a unique cooling effect.

Based on the grapes primary sensitivity to the climate, a considerable amount of the research has been carried out to establish an impending effect of the climate change on the industry of wine production. According to such studies, it has been concluded that the temperature and precipitation change are the most significant climatic factors that influence the wine and grape cost, eminence as well as amount. It has been confirmed through an analysis that there are a number of effects of temperature inconsistency on wine. In the first place, high temperatures diminish the competitiveness of grape types that are well suited to cooler places. Similarly, increasing temperatures elevate a level of grape diseases and pests. On the other hand, fewer cool nights reduce the grape quality and more extreme hot days cut down on its productivity. Such results are affirmed by most interviews conducted with grape growers in California. As a result of high temperatures, famers have been forced to pick grapes earlier, the time when sugar levels are still to high. This results in a higher alcohol content in wines that negatively impacts on the quality and taste.

A prospective supply of water as well poses a challenge to the industry. Almost every prospective prediction of the climate in California indicates an increase in drought cases. At the moment, most grape growing regions are experiencing tougher instances of drought. A practical example is in 2006 where grape growing areas received just 14 inches of rainfall. It may be opposed to annual averages of 29 inches earlier. Most probably since grapes are not comparatively water-intensive crops, an earlier analysis has disregarded the impacts of reduced precipitation on grape yield. This is contrary to the interview conducted with grape farmers. It pointed out the water shortage as being the biggest challenge as compared to temperature shifts. In normal incidences, the water shortage can be curbed through irrigation techniques. Nevertheless, farmers emphasize on the struggle they are undergoing through as a result of the reduced supply of water rights. They are necessary to irrigate their grapes and maintain productivity during successive as well as extended cases of drought.

Mitigating Effects on Adaptation Techniques

Even though high temperature and precipitation unpredictability will affect grape productivity, farmers can control this effect through a wide range of adjustment reactions. There are four major options that growers can put in place to adjust to challenges emanating from the climate change. They are: alter development factors, move sites, transform yearly management (irrigation, canopy management, and pest control), and change winemaking through acid addition and de-alcoholization. In the case of changing development factors, farmers should carry out grafting of new drought resistant grape varieties on existing rootstocks. They can also plant disease resistant clones of existing rootstocks or adjusting to the position of lattices that support vines so that they can reduce the exposure to sunlight.

A lot of efforts have been put in place by farmers to try on the four options. However, various aspects like costs, implementation hardships, and wine culture have hindered an expansive use of vineyard-scale adjustment strategies. Farmers have found out that planting new rootstocks and expanding vineyards are expensive for them to afford. Similarly, there are a number of stakeholders that are widely affected by the implementation of many of these strategies. For instance, in Napa Valley, environmental activists that focus on protecting such endangered fish species like Chinook salmon and steelhead don’t support the transformation and expansion of existing irrigation infrastructure of grape farmers. Ultimately, wine culture that concerns some trends in consumer tastes, winemakers’ elasticity, and wine measure preferences that combine into vogue wine styles are more costly or otherwise less acquiescent to adapt options. Most farmers are hesitant to graft diverse, drought-resistant grape types like Emerald Riesling and Ruby Cabernet onto available rootstocks. They fear that clients will not purchase and drink non-conventional wines. This implies that the level at which the effects of the prospective climate change will be controlled by wine industries; and grower character is uncertain.

As wine production industries have been pursuing a variety of adjustment strategies to curb an effect of the climate change on wine production, the State of California has pursued techniques of a wider climate change alleviation and pest control as well as water management strategies. The state has proposed legislative measures associated with pest and water management matters and contacted seminars to discuss and get a feedback from stakeholders both from within and outside the wine industry linked to implementation of these policies. In addition, the state committee issues reports to distribute the data regarding climate change-related enhancements significant to the wine industry. For example, the Senate Select Committee released a report in June 2007 unveiling an increased availability of a light brown apple moth that poses a critical threat to grape productivity.

Conclusion

Although current trends in the wine industry economy indicate that the Californian wine industries have grown significantly, there is an impending threat to the future of the industry due to the climate change. Wine production, as discussed, depends largely on the temperature and precipitation. It has been established that some elements of climate and weather conditions prevailing in the region, in general, over a long period of time, being most significant to viticulture include temperature, changes in the day and night temperatures, Such ones as well include the variation between winter and summer heat, sunlight, rainfall, humidity, and wind. Each of these aspects of the climate is important to grape and, hence, wine production. For instance, particular grape varieties (predominantly those used for premium wines) only survive within the limited and distinct temperature variations. Generally, grapes can either be cool or warm varieties according to particular temperature thresholds. The discussion as well has focused on some adjustment measures that farmers can undertake. Besides, there are some policies that the state can put in place to mitigate effects of the climate change on wine production.

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