What will wine country look like in 2050? I have a map of one prediction in Wired’s August issue. Wine grapes are sensitive to temperature, which makes them good indicators of global warming and a good tool for charting the warmer landscape of the future. The map uses data from this study by researchers from a number of conservation groups around the world.
The gist is that ideal growing conditions could move to higher ground, toward the coasts, and more northward, which means that, on the west coast, Washington stands to gain the most. But the state also stands to lose, because a lot of that potential new territory falls right on top of the Yellowstone to Yukon wildlife corridor. If this area becomes suitable wine growing area, more people could try to move there, setting off conflicts between development and wildlife conservation.
But don’t panic yet. Just because an area becomes suitable according to a model doesn’t mean that it will be developed. There are also ways for growers to adapt to higher temperatures in traditional wine country, so don’t expect Napa to shrivel up and die. And the model used in the article follows a worst-case greenhouse gas emission scenario, where warming gasses go mostly unchecked, which is pretty unlikely… oh, wait, never mind. That seems perfectly possible.
By the way, check out the map of Europe in the paper. The Mediterranean region is looking hot, literally. For a closer look at Europe, check out this paper.