Sunday, April 26, 2009

Global Warming at Cerro Prieto Vineyard?

Between carbon caps, "Cap and Trade", melting of both polar ice caps...need I go on...the matter of "Is it warmer now than before or not?" is really quite interesting when looking at it from the vine level in the vineyard. Take for example 10 days ago when we hit an April 16th high of 100 degrees...a new record for Paso Robles. Boy, it felt like summer was here and we were in for an exceptionally long growing season. Hurray! Problem is that 1 week prior, we had set a new low for April 9th of 24 degrees, which toasted any tender new grafts or just budded out leaves. It wasn't a quick freeze either; matter of fact, the entire cover crop of red bull clover and pasture mix was all frozen solid. That again was a record for April 9th, but as a new cold record, not a hot one.

Towards end of spring last year, we had some warm and cold days---not unusual for our springtime---and then in the midst of bloom, May 15th to 20th---we had 5 days with highs between 105-110 degrees. The killer blow came next day, May 21st, when Cerro Prieto Vineyard registered 115 degrees in both the mountain and valley vineyards. It got so hot that any flower bud that was still unopened ended up literally "popping off", much like popcorn. Walking thru the vineyard one could hear the tiny "pop-pop-pop" of unopened flower buds exploding. Our crop last year was 50% of normal, and any buds that had flowered already did fine. The unopened ones succumbed to the excruciating heat. Jeez, Global Warming , right?

Well, not so fast, because 12 days later we hit 24 degrees in our valley vineyard, which just added insult to injury. Now, when I hear about global warming and all the reasons to believe it, from the vines viewpoint, we not only are having record highs, but we are also having record lows. Already this month we have had both record highs as well as lows. So what exactly do the vines see? In a nutshell, we are seeing virtually unheard of extremes, which, incidentally, coincide with the third year of a predicted local 10 year drought(in some articles). So from a vine's viewpoint, what in the heck is going on?

If vines could speak they would say that it is the temperature extremes that they notice, not global warming... nor cooling. How or why is this important in the vineyard? Well, last year Paso vineyards were hit with a 30-50% crop loss, directly attributable to the climatic extremes; in 2008, it was the extreme heat, not the later freeze, that clonked us. This year the wildly swinging extremes are starting out in APRIL with new daily lows AND highs. So, for global warming proponents, yes, we see the effects of climate change not only in our vineyard, but also in our pocketbook. But it is not just the warming that is to blame here. The record freezes are every bit as damaging as the heat waves we have experienced the last 3 years.

Is this global warming...or global cooling...or both? For every iceberg that is melting I can show you a vine that has been hammered by the cold. When you put these two extremes back to back, and do it more than once, there is a terribly negative effect on all local vineyards. Here at Cerro Prieto Vineyard and Cellars, we are as beaten up by the record highs as we are the lows. And for the vines, it isn't global is global temperature extremism, which is a bad omen for vineyards...and a worse omen for the wine aficionado.

So please, before making a case for global warming, you might consider how the vines see this...and if they could talk they would say "It is the record breaking temperature extremes bothering them...not global warming".

No comments:

Post a Comment