Last week the New York Times ran an article discussing the effects of climate change on wine growing. This angle of the climate change story has been addressed before. The general consensus is that as the climate patterns change so will the regions suitable for wine production. In fact, as Times article points out, this is already happening with vineyards popping up in places previously too cold and inhospitable for vineyards.
However, this article took a different angle, asking what ecological effects these vineyards will have on their new locations “Vineyards have long-lasting effects on habitat quality. In addition to introducing sterilizing chemicals and fertilizer, mature vineyards 'have low habitat value' for native species “and are visited more often by nonnative species.”
Red-tailed Hawk. Native Species
Needless to say, global warming and climate change are much bigger issues than can ever be solved on a winery's blog. And we at Sixteen 600 would be the first to admit that worrying about where we're gonna get our wine from should be pretty low on our list when it comes to things to worry about with a changing climate. However, "long-lasting effects on habitat" and "introducing sterilizing chemicals"? That's an issue we have a lot to say about.
It's great that the New York Times and others are concerned about the ecosystems and water supplies of potential future wine growing regions but where's the concern about current wine growing regions? Conventionally farmed vineyards, like most any commercial agriculture, are hard on the environment around them. There is a lack of biodiversity, they scare off native species-both flora and fauna, chemical fertilizers and pesticides escape into the air, ground and water. Instead of worrying about the impact of vineyards in the future, let's focus on the vineyards of the present. Unlike most crops, grapes are a long-term commitment, it's up to the farmers to be as committed to the ecosystem around the vineyards as they are to the vines themselves.
Phil Coturri has always viewed himself as steward of the land, and his farming methods are dictated by that philosophy on a daily basis. The intensive cover crop program, the insectaries full of native plants, habitat for beneficial insects, the bird boxes and hawk perches are all ways to break the monoculture of the modern vineyard. These practices invite native species into the vineyard in a balanced way. On top of that, Phil hasn't applied a chemical pesticide or fertilizer in vineyard since the Ford Administration. The bottom line is vineyards and ecological balance don't have to be mutually exclusive. In fact Phil's career and Sixteen 600 Wines are a testament to ecological harmony in the vineyard will lead to balance in the wineglass.
A hawk perch
So if you're worried about climate change, we don't blame you, but as long as you're drinking Sixteen 600, you won't have to worry about your wine's effects on "habitat quality."
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