Notes from the Field
(photo of grape picker with Napa Valley bin)
After a year that kept grapegrowers on their toes, winemakers were all smiles as
the 2006 harvest finished in early November. This vintage will go down as a “grower’s
year” and thanks to excellent agricultural practices, vintners were able to
respond to all the challenges thrown their way. From Albarhino to Zinfandel, and
all the wines in between, the quality of varieties across the board appears spectacular.
Cool weather dominated early October, with some rain coming in the first week, but
most white varieties, like Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay—those more
likely to be affected by rain than red varieties—were already harvested. Many
Chardonnay producers were happy to have a bit of botrytis in the clusters as an added
flavor layer. For Pinot Noir, the resulting wines are already unfolding with wonderful
perfume and very good density.
For complete harvest report, log onto www.napavintners.com, “About Napa Valley.”
One morning last July, newspapers across the nations read that the global wine industry is doomed. A widely-reported study from Purdue University, funded by NASA and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, asserted that global warming will reduce viable wine grape acreage in the United States by more than 80%, and make it impossible to grow high-quality wine grapes in many of the currently outstanding wine regions by the end of this century.
While the news was titillating and made for dramatic headlines that Napa’s famed wine industry was doomed, the headlines belie the fact that there is a lot that we don’t know about climate change as it affects the wine industry and particularly, Napa Valley. While we all agree that reduction of greenhouse gases and curtailment of global warming should be the cornerstone of our business and environmental policy, as winegrowers, we look at what we can do within our own environment and how we can help shape policy world-wide going forward. If as the headlines imply we are the canary in the coal mine, none of us can look at the Napa Valley wine industry and think, “boy those guys are in bad shape,” just as the coal miner doesn’t look to the canary gasping for air and say, “tough break for that canary.” We look at the sign and see what each of us can do to shape a responsible future.
To that end, the Napa Valley Vintners have created a Climate Change Task Force, working with noted geophysicists from Scripps Institute of Oceanography and our own vineyard owners to see what is really happening in Napa Valley to date and then project an more accurate model for how we might adjust farm practices in the short term to maintain our leadership role in viticulture and winemaking.
We looked to the scientists at Scripps specifically because they deal with the ocean’s effect on our unique climate, the single-most important influence on our weather in Napa. None of the studies to date have factored in the unique micro-climates of Napa when projecting climate models. There is some suggestion that Napa Valley might actually become cooler as interior valleys warm, because of the influence of fog from the Pacific. As Mark Twain wrote in the 19 th century, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco,” which is because the warmer it is in California’s Central Valley, the cooler it is along the coast. Fog is what moderates our climate so dramatically in the growing season—our famous warm days, influenced by interior heat and cool nights, brought about by our proximity to the coast.
The process is underway to more fully understand what we need to be prepared for in the short and long term to maintain our industry. The philosophy is somewhat dated, but absolutely still applies, “Act Locally, Think Globally.” We in Napa Valley are leading in sustainable agricultural practices like our signature program, Napa Green Land where there are currently over 19,000 acres of land in the Napa River watershed enrolled in a program largely based on Fish Friendly Farming, yet tailored to the specific environments of this unique valley. The program looks at all aspects of a grape grower’s land, not just the planted vineyard, but the roads, buildings and non-farmed land. This year, we are bringing the program to the winery production facilities with Napa Green Winery, where all aspects of recycling, energy use and waste management are looked at to reduce environmental impact.
This winter, renowned writer Rod Smith wrote an essay titled, “Warming to the Future,” and looked at the questions facing growers and all of us and provided some hopeful solutions for how to turn this problem around. Not unlike the film An Inconvenient Truth, the essay leaves the reader with a hopeful view of the future and how we can all play a part in that process. From our homes to our offices to simple daily practices, we can all make a difference.
As Smith writes, “In a real sense, each of us holds Earth in our hands, just as surely as we hold a glass of Napa Valley wine.”
To read Smith’s essay, log onto www.napavinnters.com and click on “About Napa Valley,” for this and other industry topics. And check out a consumer-friendly website with daily tips and ideas on how to make a change, www.idealbite.com.
In fast and furious bidding in an over-flowing room of excited retailers, restaurateurs
and wholesalers, 192 lots of one-of-a-kind wines from California’s Napa Valley
were sold at the eleventh annual Premiere Napa Valley® (PNV). The renowned mid-winter
barrel auction brought in just over $2.16 million on Saturday, February 24, a 16%
increase in revenue over 2006’s record-setting earnings.
Save the date for PNV 2008, Saturday, February 23 in Napa Valley. For more information, visit www.napavintners.com and click on “trade & media” to get on the list for the hottest ticket in town!
The world-famous wine lover’s auction is a thirty mile long block party that convenes each June in Napa Valley. Star chefs from around the country and Napa’s vintners open their homes and wineries for one heck of a four-day party to raise money for our local healthcare, affordable housing and youth service non-profits and bidders walk away with rare, prized wines and the quintessential Napa Valley experience.
ANV 2007, themed “the American Classic,” is being chaired by the Joseph Phelps Vineyards Family and this year, offers a terrific package “Day at the Auction,” which is a great way for the wine trade to visit the valley, enjoy our member’s hospitality and bid on luxury items and barrel futures. This package offers invitations to Auction Eve Kick-Off Parties, Taste Napa Valley at Auction Napa Valley—the consummate al fresco food and wine event of the year, the E-Auction and Barrel Futures Auction and a daytime party on Saturday with the vintners.
For more visit www.napavintners.com and click on “ Auction Napa Valley.” Tickets are on sale after March 29, so don’t miss the summertime “must-attend” event in the Valley.
Join us as we promote and protect the Napa Valley Appellation around the world and in our own backyard.
Auction Napa Valley
Educate the Educator
Master Napa Valley
Taste Napa Valley UK
Taste Napa Valley Miami
It’s no secret that Napa Valley wines rock, but our treasure chest of science-made-simple will help you and your team recommend and sell these terrific wines with confidence. From wine pairing tips to sub-appellation maps and shelf talkers to table tents, let us help you learn more about our region, its wines, its climate and its rocks! Check out all things “Napa Valley Rocks” at www.napavinters.com and click on “trade & media,” then “tools for the trade.”