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Napa Grapes Blooming Early; Good For Taste, Bad For Business

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Wine Grapes

Sauvignon blanc wine grapes. (Wikimedia)

NAPA (CBS) — In the heart of California wine country, PJ Alviso at Paraduxx Wine Company can’t believe that his Napa valley vineyard is already in bloom.

California’s warmest winter on record left his grapes budding 4 weeks ahead of schedule. That means Alviso’s grapes will have extra time to ripen on the vine, before they have to be plucked in November to avoid fall’s cold and wet weather.

So this could actually improve the taste of wine?

“I think we may have the opportunity to do that this year — the really big, jammy Cabernets and Zinfandels that are really ripe, those wines for sure will benefit,” said Alviso.

Since the 1960s, temperatures in much of the U.S. have increased 1 to 2 degrees. Meteorologist Eric Boldt said that’s resulted in longer, warmer seasons and shorter, less intense colder seasons.

“Most likely we’re going to continue to have more numerous years of being above normal on the temperature range and that will continue our averages to be steadily higher,” said Boldt.

The gradual rise in temperature could eventually threaten Napa’s ability to make wine.

“We can’t grow wine without grapes. We can’t grow grapes without whatever Mother Nature gives us,” said Alviso.

The government estimates over the next 40 years temperatures in the area will rise about 4 degrees. Some scientists believe that change would mean the amount of land in Napa county suitable for growing those world-renowned grapes could be cut in half.

Scientists say technology might come to the rescue. Advances could allow the grapes to get used to growing in a warmer climate.

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