How Will Extreme Walla Walla Washington Winter 2009 Impact Wines?

One of the blogs I read about wine and wine related issues is Ken Payton’s Reign of Terroir.

I met Ken at the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa; we both took refuge under a shady tree during a tasting at Dry Creek Vineyard. We also ran into each other at the EWBC in Lisbon the following November and we both traveled to the cork forest.

Along the way, I’ve learned that Ken is a blogger of the journalistic vein; he’s willing to ask the tough questions. He’s quick to take notes and record conversations of interest. He’s bright, articulate, edgy, and opinionated–and he has weighed in on comments here in this blog as well.

Recently, Ken posted a two part series on climate change and viticulture based on conversation with climatologist Gregory V. Jones who Ken says is  “America’s most rigorous voice in the science as it relates to climate change and viticulture.”

I highly recommend both of Ken Payton’s blog posts on climate and wine but what caught my eye the most, because I’m thinking a lot these days about Washington Wine in order to be competitive for the WBC-Or-Bust contest, was this specific example:

The act of singular events like winter freezes are a little less extreme of late, but they still occur. Walla Walla this past December got down to 10 degrees; that’s at the damaging point for grape vines. Those kinds of things still happen. They just don’t go away. These extreme issues, whether they be with rainfall, hail even, of Winter freezes or Spring frosts, they are still risks to the industry depending on where you are.

Should I win a spot on the WBC-Or-Bust bus, this topic will be something I will want to follow-up on: how climate change is impacting the wine industry in the Northwest and in Washington in particular. I’ve been curious about climate change since I was an undergrad environmental studies major at UC Santa Cruz (where I went following a stint working in Ridge’s tasting room and where we had as a test case Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon Vineyards!)  I wonder whether wineries will be willing to have front door conversations on this touchy subject. Certainly, the wineries should be prepared to discuss their sustainable practices and the ways they are reducing their carbon footprints.

Word count clocks in at over 400! And I thought this would be a short and sweet post!