CNN: Global Warming Threatening California’s Wine Industry
Better put your coffee cups down, folks – and your wine glasses for that matter – as Team CNN yesterday provided viewers with quite a knee-slapper. During the 7PM ET installment of Tuesday’s “The Situation Room,” Wolf Blitzer and the boys shared some global warming gloom that must have made sommeliers around the country spit up their merlot.
Blitzer began (with a straight face, mind you!): “Global warming threatening California's multi-billion dollar wine industry, that's the crux of a new study which says as much as 81 percent of the state’s prime growing areas will be unusable by the end of the century.”
81 percent, huh? Are you drunk?
(Update -- For even more laughs, a reader e-mailed me an October 31, 2005 San Francisco Chronicle article reporting that 2005 was expected to be the second-largest grape harvest in California history!!!)
Blitzer then passed the bottle to correspondent Chris Lawrence: “Yes, just a beautiful landscape here, Wolf. And you know, these grapes produce some of the best wine in the world, but climate experts are warning that global warming could put entire vineyards in danger.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking: these have to be French climate experts secretly hired by wineries from either the Bordeaux or Rhone Valley regions, right? Nope. This is a study from Purdue University “projecting an 81 percent decrease in total production in the United States for premium wines.”
Of course, nowhere in the report did Lawrence point out to the viewer that California has actually been experiencing longer winters in the past two years, and, correspondingly shorter summers. Maybe more important, CNN totally ignored the more critical matter: What is global warming going to do to hops and barley? (hiccup)
What follows is a full transcript of this segment.
BLITZER: Let's move on though to some other important news we're following. Global warming threatening California's multi-billion dollar wine industry, that's the crux of a new study which says as much as 81 percent of the state's prime growing areas will be unusable by the end of the century. That's what the study suggests. CNN's Chris Lawrence is joining us now live from near Santa Barbara. Beautiful wine country behind you Chris.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, just a beautiful landscape here, Wolf. And you know, these grapes produce some of the best wine in the world, but climate experts are warning that global warming could put entire vineyards in danger.
LAWRENCE: America's wine industry is a multi-billion dollar business, but if a new scientific study is true, it's about to go bad.
NOAH DIFFENBAUGH, PURDUE UNIVERSITY: We're projecting an 81 percent decrease in total production in the United States for premium wines.
LAWRENCE: Noah Diffenbaugh of Purdue University is part of a team of climate experts who found that over the next century, global warming will increase the number of extremely hot days during growing season.
DIFFENBAUGH: The increases in those days are so substantial in this projection that that's where we see the real impact on the premium wine industry.
LAWRENCE: For maximum flavor, those premium wine grapes need to grow in specific temperatures, the kind found here in the valleys north of Los Angeles. California's vineyards employ thousands of workers and produce some of the world's best wines.
(on camera): If the climate does change, what does that mean to you?
LOUIS LUCAS, LUCAS AND LEWELLEN VINEYARDS: Well, it's a big if.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Vineyard owner Louis Lucas is skeptical, but realistic.
LUCAS: The wrong weather can just take you out.
LAWRENCE: But vineyard owners say they're already adapting day to day, through rain and drought, hot years and cold ones.
ROGER WISTED, OWNER, BLACKJACK RANCH WINERY: It's hard for me to believe that we can get so warm here that it would be an issue.
LAWRENCE: Public interest exploded after being featured in the movie "Sideways." Like the Napa and Sonoma Valley wineries, this area has a unique combination of sunlight, heat and cold.
LUCAS: That's why we're here. Santa Barbara County is a great place to grow grapes.
LAWRENCE: The question is whether it will continue to be in the years to come.
LAWRENCE: Yet vineyard owners could switch to other, more durable grapes if it gets too hot to grow the premium ones. One owner told me it may not be the kind of wine you store for 30 years, but it's something.
BLITZER: And it's beautiful the scenery behind you. Chris, thanks very much for that report.