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Global warming could affect wine growing

June 30, 2011 at 5:38 PM   |   Comments

PALO ALTO, Calif., June 30 (UPI) -- Global warming could significantly affect California and other premium wine-growing regions of the United States in the next 30 years, researchers say.

Scientists at Stanford University said that by 2040, the amount of land suitable for cultivating premium wine grapes in high-value areas of northern California could shrink by 50 percent because of global warming.

However, they said, some cooler parts of Oregon and Washington state could see an increase in premium grape-growing acreage due to that same warming, a Stanford release reported Thursday.

"Our new study looks at climate change during the next 30 years -- a time frame over which people are actually considering the costs and benefits of making decisions on the ground," said Noah Diffenbaugh, an assistant professor of environmental science.

California produces more than 5 million gallons of wine per year, or about 90 percent of the nation's total wine production, the Wine Institute, a trade organization representing California winemakers, said.

The retail value of the state's wine industry in 2010 was estimated at $18.5 billion.

The Stanford study focused on wine-growing counties in California, Oregon and Washington.

"We focused on these counties because their mild climates have made them major sources of high-quality grapes," Diffenbaugh said.

But that could change, and soon, he said.

"There will likely be significant localized temperature changes over the next three decades," Diffenbaugh said. "One of our motivations for the study was to identify the potential impact of those changes, and also to identify the opportunities for growers to take action and adapt."

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