That "cont." reference in the headline is a two-fold notation. The first meaning is the usual, continued, which refers to the fact that we have discussed this topic before. And then there's the second meaning, continuing, and that is the story noting global warming is not going away.
I don't want to get all balled up in the causes of global warming. It could be a natural circumstance of this living planet, Earth. Change is the order of nature. Or global warming could indeed be as nefarious as hosting too many humans with too much gaseous emissions. And we can't discount cow farts. Why would we want to? If we have to assess blame, and it seems we must, then livestock , having no grasp of human language, nor thumbs, seems to be an excellent scapegoat, …er, scapecow.
Anyway, denial of global warming is no longer the popular path. Maybe you are still not "sold" that global warming is occurring, but undeniably, something is going on. At this point, the empirical evidence is not completely overwhelming, yet there are trends and that is what has some scientists yelling that the sky is falling, literally. We are all of a mind, however, that whatever is going on, and there is always something going on, is moving at a slow pace, not racing towards cataclysm. But, if something is going on, and to a few folks that is a very big "if", it would be better to do something rather than nothing, just in case.
So far, to me, the best evidence comes from agriculture. Grapes, of course. Grapes are very sensitive mirrors of their surroundings. A grape remembers and reflects every single day of its existence in the vineyard. If it is too hot, the grape responds by speeding up its ripening; too cold and the process goes slower. Too much rain, and the resulting fruit can be flabby in quality, and not enough rain, the aroma and taste structure will be off balance with too much sugar or too high a tannin component or not enough acid.
I mention all of this because grape growers in important winemaking locations, like Tuscany in Italy, or Bordeaux in France, or Napa Valley in California are all on record that record books are out the window. "Normal" harvests are no longer the norm. More often than not, the roller coaster ride that is agriculture is exacerbated, sometimes to the point where wine doctors are called in to try and rescue the crop or the young juice. With only one chance a year to make wine, any screw-up could jeopardize the existence of the business.
The origin of this mild rant was an article noting the changing pattern of bark development of cork trees in Portugal. Not completely earth shattering news, I will admit, but another bit of information on top of many other bits. Like the fact that Great Britain is now making sparkling wine on that sceptered isle from grapes grown there by a few of the more prestigious Champagne houses. Or maybe you will listen to producers of Chianti Classico wines in Tuscany who are experiencing earlier harvests over the past ten to twenty years. Same is true in Napa Valley in California. There has even been some talk that both prime grape growing regions could be unfit for such activities in as near as fifty years.
Then there is the interesting case affirmed in the results of a recent wine competition in which I had the honor of judging a good number of the 2200 entries from around the world.
The Indiana International Wine Competition, INDY, is staged every June at Purdue University, a school of considerable renown in West Lafayette, Indiana. The oenology department at that esteemed institution of higher learning ranks among the most prestigious in the US.
It is also worth noting that they have a pretty good football team and have made a major contribution to our beloved Saints in the person of Drew Brees, who is a graduate of Purdue, and still a much loved figure around their Ivy League-style campus. Drew took a number of wine courses during his days of quarterbacking the Purdue Boilermakers so he knows his way around a wine glass and a corkscrew. Oh, and Purdue’s school colors are black and gold. Getting spooky, isn’t it?
At any rate, at INDY, there were two top wines that deserve discussion in light of this topic of global warming. The winner of the top award for French-American Grape Rosé was Carlos Creek Winery, using the Frontenac varietal. And winner for White French American category was Saint Croix Winery for their 2013 Vignoles wine. Both of these award-winning wines are from….wait for it…..Minnesota.
Both of the grapes are hybrids (grapes developed for specific installations from other grape varietals) and both were developed for the conditions present in cooler climates. The great news is that not only were the lab experiments and the vineyard plantings successful, but the product emerging from the winery after fermentation is a winner.
Most importantly, these wines are winners overall and they are from a very cool climate, with the wines demonstrating amazing and interesting fruit characters, fine balance, good acidity and surprising length of finish. From Minnesota, no less. That blows me away.
So while we talk of global warming, oftentimes it’s actually climate rearranging. If quality grapes for sparkling wines can be grown in England and if award winning wines can be created completely in Minnesota, then clearly something is happening. For some areas it may be a wonderful result, as demonstrated in these examples, but there are likely other plants and even animals that won’t benefit to a good extent.
The bottom line is that there are weather pattern changes. Grapes don’t lie.
The second lesson is that maybe you should not be so fast to turn down that glass of wine from Iowa, Minnesota, or Michigan.