When Tom Gamble’s grandfather arrived in Napa Valley, California, in 1916, wine grapes did not seem like the best crop for a new farmer—lawmakers were discussing Prohibition at the time. So Gamble’s grandfather planted olives, tomatoes, pears, walnuts, and hay crops, and he raised livestock. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the Gamble family got into the region’s most well-known crop, and now Gamble is the owner of the 175-acre Gamble Family Vineyard, a sizable operation amid some of the valley’s most prestigious terroir.

As a third-generation farmer, Gamble knows that adjusting to the weather has always been part of agriculture. When he was a kid, the Napa River was dry, and he often rode his dirt bike in the riverbed. “We would never do that today,” he said—the Napa Valley has made a concerted effort to restore the aquifers and protect the watershed through legislation and sustainability initiatives.

But the weather has gotten worse. Because of the human-caused climate crisis, Gamble and other winemakers are battling extreme heat, unseasonable cold, torrential rain, and drought, not to mention wildfires. Sustainability initiatives are no longer sufficient: according to a 2020 paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, long-established vineyards in Napa and other wine regions around the world will need to migrate or adapt to the changing climate in order to survive. In a scenario where the earth warms by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)—a scenario that is looking likely—the findings estimate that 56 percent of worldwide wine grapes would be wiped out. Losses may be unavoidable in countries that are already hot, such as Italy, Spain, and Australia. Meanwhile, historically cooler wine-growing regions, like Germany, New Zealand, and the Pacific Northwest, could become suitable for warmer varieties like mourvèdre and grenache, while pinot noir, a delicate, thin-skinned grape that grows best in a cool climate, could expand northward into new viticulture regions. Oenophiles who’ve come to love certain varietals and vintages are going to have to buckle up for change and uncertainty.

Read the full story at Outside Online.

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