By Courtney Cochran
“It’s not like Wall Street,” mused Chris Howell, winemaker and general manager of Napa’s Cain Vineyard and Winery
, in describing the challenges facing California vintners when planning for the future in the face of climate change.
“When you’re a farmer you have to be optimistic,” he continued, noting that “you’re planting a vineyard for [generations that will tend it for] 20, 50 or 100 years…we need to be grounded in reality and need to think about how to adapt.”
Looking to the Future
Indeed. Howell’s remarks – part of Tuesday’s annual Harvest Report presented by the The Napa Valley Vintners (NVV)
in San Francisco – made tidy use of the Wall-Street-as-example-of-what-not-to-do metaphor that’s about as omnipresent as Starbuck’s coffee houses these days. The metaphor reflects the new sobriety the Street’s failures have catalyzed among Americans, and it’s a handy lead-in to a discussion of climate change, a phenomenon of still-greater catastrophic proportions that’s also the result of hyper-consumption of resources and lack of long-term planning. In a word, it works. And I’m glad it does – not because there’s anything good about climate change (or an economy on the skids, for that matter) – but because it focuses attention on an issue that’s been slowly gaining momentum among wine geeks for years, but is only just beginning to break into the mainstream consciousness.
That climate change is here and real is no longer the question. Instead, the wine industry – at least California’s, for that matter – is moving squarely into the realm of trying to understand exactly the kinds of short- and long-term effects it’ll have on our vineyards, and how we can plan for the future to mitigate these problems.
And just like that, something good comes out of something terrible. “The good news is that we can educate ourselves about the situation and still take action that can have a positive effect,” Howell concluded. Cheers to that.