How Winemakers Are Adapting to Changing Winds

Many new AVAs have been crea­ted based on the impact of wind—but tho­se winds, inclu­ding famed ones from around the world, are chan­ging with the cli­ma­te. What can viti­cul­tu­rists and wine­ma­kers do to keep up?

When the Peta­lu­ma Gap AVA set out to dis­tin­guish itself from other northern Cali­for­nia gro­wing regions, it didn’t look first to tra­di­tio­nal fac­tors such as soil and ele­va­tion. Ins­tead, it high­ligh­ted a less-dis­cus­sed vine­yard fac­tor: wind.

The Peta­lu­ma Gap is dif­fe­rent in the sen­se that it’s all about this wind-dri­ven for­ce from the Paci­fic Ocean that moves through this natu­ral, geo­graphi­cally-occu­rring wind tun­nel,” says Eri­ca Stan­cliff, the wine­ma­ker at Pfend­ler Vine­yards and the pre­si­dent of the Peta­lu­ma Gap Wine­gro­wers Allian­ce. The local hills crea­te a tun­nel that draws cool air and fog into the area, for­cing tem­pe­ra­tu­res down in the mid-after­noon and kee­ping them low until the follo­wing morning.

What this means for gro­wing is that we have a much lon­ger ripe­ning win­dow becau­se we have nice sunny days, but it stays really cool at night and in the mor­ning,” adds Stan­cliff. Less sun­light means the soil doesn’t dry out as quickly, which is help­ful in drought years, and gro­wers can hang fruit for lon­ger without losing acidity.

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