Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pioneering Pinot is in Peril, Actually; Climate Change Threatens Much

The front page story on Oregon wine was great to see.

It deserves every bit of the attention.

But remember the stories about the early grape harvest last fall?

Warm summer meant early fall harvest
About the harvest Harry Peterson-Nedry at Chehalem said:
Since October began, we’ve had five more 80F+ days and our Cumulative Degree Days now rest at 2681, the highest I have ever seen in the Willamette Valley, 2500 being the boundary between Region 1 and 2 (Cool and Not-so Cool!). [italics added]
A couple of weeks later he noted still more heat, with "degree day accumulations of 2800."

Pinot is in peril!

And a story about the last 50 years should have included facts about the recent decade or two and about the prospects for the next 50 years. Weather is not climate, but our changing climate has made the average yearly weather much warmer. There are still outliers, but the center is moving.

Cold, rainy harvests with thin, difficult wine are rare these days. That used to be the hallmark of prime Pinot land. Our vineyards here are no longer in marginal sites. The style of Pinot is changing towards a richer, fuller style, and weather may become so warm that it is no longer even possible here to grow Pinot Noir. (Burgundy, the great home of Pinot, is facing the same problem.)

Cool-climate wine doesn't look so healthy here. Pinot will move north or up into higher elevations, and the warmer-weather grapes of California may very well move in at lower elevations.

Notice how big California wineries are increasingly investing in Oregon vineyard land. It's not just because they love our Pinot. As it warms up, they may plant over to Cabernet and Merlot!

And its not just wine. Oysters too. Today's story highlights ocean acidification.

Other Newsbits

Ok, so here's some mostly happy news.

If you drive your car, you can go ride your bike!

I missed the one on "mud," but the paper's devoted quite a large chunk of real estate to a trilogy on fat tire biking in the mud, snow, and sand.

Feb 21
I have mixed feelings about all the coverage, though. It's great to see support for biking, and tourism is a real component of the local economy, but this is all in the "play" narrative and makes bicycling the play and sport of leisured adults with discretionary income, often around resorts. And while the scenery is nice and all, people bike at these sites too because they don't feel safe and comfortable biking in the city around cars. We shouldn't make bike tourism the safety valve for autoism and our crappy, even lethal, street system.

A symptom of this is the way that conversations about the proposed bike park in Wallace Marine Park have to be insulated against the uncomfortable fact of the proposed giant bridge and highway.

Proposed bike park with bridge alignment for comparison
Feb 12

Feb 19

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