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The 45th Parallel: A World of Change in Winemaking

The 45th Parallel: A World of Change in Winemaking

Vineyards from Bordeaux to Croatia to China to Michigan adjust to a market revolution

Bill Daley | Chicago Tribune

“I think people are talking too much about climate,” said Paolo Bava, winemaker at his family’s winery based in Cocconato, a village outside the Piedmontese town of Asti. “Over the last 100 years we’ve had moments of warmth and moments of cold.”

Some winemakers in Bordeaux, like their counterparts in California’s Napa Valley, shrug their shoulders when asked about the impact of global warming. Some studies claim that these areas may actually grow cooler as climatic patterns shift, they note.

“There are so many potential scenarios that, if I was on the front lines, I’d be shrugging my shoulders too,” Sommers said.

The next few generations of wine drinkers may have some interesting choices.

“Canadian zinfandel? Russian syrah?” Jeffirs asked. “I don’t think we’ll have to worry about it in our lifetime, but 50-plus years from now, we’ll probably have regions currently too cold for vinifera vines being able to handle them and the warmer regions dealing with heat too excessive for optimal ripening.”

Bill Daley is the Tribune’s food and wine critic. He reported this story from France and Italy, with contributions from Tribune foreign correspondents writing on Croatia, Russia and China.