By 2100, Spokane could be the new Napa

James Daisa/Flickr/Creative Commons

By 2100, Spokane could be the new Napa

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—First it was coffee, then chocolate. Now, researchers are predicting that climate change could shake up yet another gastronomic delicacy: wine. Data presented today at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union suggest that by 2100, Washington state could unseat Northern California as the most diverse wine-producing region in the western United States. And two of the most prominent wines in these regions right now—cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir—may have to take up residence elsewhere. That’s because these grapes thrive in conditions unlikely to be the norm 80 years from now. To generate their predictions, the researchers mapped grape varieties grown in each of the country’s major wine-producing regions and then modeled future climate shifts using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s high-emissions business-as-usual scenario, which has global temperatures jumping between 2.6°C and 4.8°C by the year 2100. In that same time period, according to the data, the number of wine grape varieties that can be grown in Napa and other California regions could drop from a few dozen to less than 10, while areas in northern Washington and British Columbia could see an explosion in cultivable grape varieties. The data suggest that wine-growing regions in Europe will shift northward as well. But all is not lost: Because grape varieties mature at varying rates and thrive at different temperatures and altitudes, the researchers suggest that expanding wine regions now to accommodate more varieties could help regional producers survive.