Posts Tagged ‘vineyard’

Photo: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images.
Ancient grape varieties in the laboratory at the Familia Torres vineyard near Barcelona. 

Here we go, Humans! More adapting.

Today’s story is about pragmatic grape growers adapting to climate change by seeking out grapes that can handle more heat. Too bad they have to do this, but what they learn may help other growers — and all of us.

Ashifa Kassam covers the topic for the Guardian: “The ads – tucked in the corners of local newspapers and directed at winemakers – began turning up across Catalonia in the 1980s. ‘If you know where to find any uncommon grape varieties, please get in touch,’ they read.

“Dozens of tips came pouring in, shepherding Miguel A Torres in his search for long-forgotten wine grapes. But it wouldn’t be until a decade later, as the climate crisis began wreaking havoc on vines, that the fourth-generation winemaker realized his foray into the past could play a key role in tackling what lies ahead.

“ ‘I simply wanted to recover the heritage – the ancient traditions and vines – left to us by our ancestors,’ said Torres, the president of Familia Torres winery.

‘And then we realized that some of these varieties take longer to ripen, meaning they might be able to help us in a warming world.’

“It was a glimmer of hope as the wine industry grapples with a changing climate. Extreme weather, drought and steadily rising temperatures have laid bare a crop that is extremely sensitive to change. In Spain, rising temperatures have meant grapes ripening more quickly, leaving winemakers rushing to harvest in hopes of protecting the carefully concocted balance between the fruit’s sugars and acidity.

“ ‘Climate change is the worst threat the sector has ever faced,’ said Torres. …

“In California, vintners are embracing grapes such as mourtaou, a nearly extinct variety from south-western France, to create peppery reds, while some in France’s Cognac region are toppling more than a century of tradition to trial climate-resistant grapes. In Bordeaux, concerns about the climate crisis recently helped to secure the approval of six new grape varieties, including castets, a disease-resistant variety that had been on the brink of disappearing.

“The reasons these grapes fell into disuse varies widely, said José Miguel Martínez Zapater, the director of the Institute of Grapevine and Wine Sciences in La Rioja. Some were abandoned in the late 19th century as the phylloxera plague forced European grape growers to chase efficiency, while others were discarded as winemakers sought to comply with strictly defined appellations or consumer preferences for certain grapes.

“Martínez Zapater’s publicly funded institute is one of several across Spain that have been peering into the past to bolster wine grape diversity – a years-long process that involves identifying the varieties, testing out their characteristics and seeking official approval for their use. … ‘People are finding varieties in different areas that they consider interesting.’

“In Spain – home to a €5bn-a-year wine production industry [$5,390,000,000] whose production outpaced all other EU countries in 2021 – much is on the line. Last year, the country experienced its hottest year since record-keeping began; since 2015 the country has sweltered through four of its hottest years on record.

“At the Agrarian Technological Institute of Castilla y Leon, known as ITACyL in Spanish, two decades of research have led to the recovery of more than a dozen varieties of grapes. The list includes estaladiña, a grape whose last recorded reference stretches back to 1914, and cenicienta, a grape close to extinction before it was revived to make fruity reds.

“ ‘The wines they make are very distinct and interesting,’ said José Antonio Rubio Cano, who heads the viticulture and woody crop department at the institute. … He stressed, however, that the embrace of these long-overlooked varieties is just part of the broader efforts needed as the industry adapts to a changing climate. ‘There’s no one solution,’ said Rubio Cano. ‘It has to be a set of things; we have to pay more attention to the vines, be more aware of how their fruits are ripening and we need to develop a deeper understanding of the vineyard and the different varieties.’ …

“The Caserío de Dueñas vineyard is taking the institute’s research to the next level, planting hectares of eight of the recovered varieties to test out how the grapes behave in a real-world scenario.

“ ‘I find it super-interesting,’ said Almudena Alberca [who in 2018 became Spain’s first female master of wine and is] the technical director for Entrecanales Domecq, the vineyard’s owner. ‘The possibilities are endless.’ …

“Four decades after Torres placed his first ad seeking forgotten grapes, Familia Torres has begun releasing small quantities of wines made from the fruits of his quest, such as forcada and pirene. The wines tell a story that is both steeped in the past and nods at the enormous challenge that lies ahead as the climate crisis tightens its grip, said Torres.

“ ‘I’ve always said that the wine sector is the canary in the coal mine,’ he added. ‘The consequences that vineyards are living through right now should make everyone take notice.’ ”

More at the Guardian, here. No firewall; donations encouraged.

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When people are serving time for a crime, how much better for society — both during their sentence and after they get out — if they have some useful work while inside.

Patricia Leigh Brown writes at Atlas Obscura, “Justin King spends most of his hours in a cinderblock dormitory room for minimum-security prisoners, sleeping on a metal bunk bed and being constantly monitored by surveillance cameras.

“But on a crisp California morning with coastal fog hanging on the hillsides, King, who is serving time for selling methamphetamines, and three of his fellow inmates at the Mendocino County jail huddle together in a 175-acre vineyard to pick plump sangiovese grapes. The only visible difference between the prisoners and the other field workers are the GPS tracking devices wrapped around their ankles.

” ‘Hey dude!’ King, 32, called out to his fellow inmate, Meliton Rangel, as King eyed a promising group of clusters wet with dew. ‘I hit clump city here!’

“The men’s enthusiasm for grapes with just the right sugar levels and tannins is a variation on the concept of work release, in which inmates deemed low security risks are employed by private companies. …

” ‘They’re hard workers,’ [Vineyard owner Martha] Barra says of her new employees, who wear “civilian” clothes in her magazine-esque vineyard. ‘They have to meet the same punctuality and performance requirements as everybody else.’ …

“The work is notoriously grueling: At first, Rangel, a stiff-legged 37, said he was going to quit. That changed when he received his first paycheck—his first one ever. ‘This has really helped me out,’ he says. ‘It feels very good to work.’ …

“In the Mendocino program last year, four of the six inmates who worked on the grape crew at Redwood Valley Vineyards have indeed stayed out of jail. Three now have full-time jobs. One now works at the vineyard full-time, rebounding from tough years of drug addiction and homelessness. …

” ‘There’s peace of mind out here,’ King says.”

More here.

Photo: Olivier Vanpé /Wikimedia Commons
Clusters of ripe and unripe Pinot noir grapes.

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All through one of Concord’s hottest summers, Sophie has been creating a mural of Tuscan vineyards for Period Realty. Take a look at the progression. I especially like the latest touches showing a tasting table and distant bicyclists.

Read more about Sophie and the mural here.

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