How Climate Change Is Affecting Mount Salem Vineyards
When we started planting vines on Mount Salem two decades ago, we knew climate change would affect us, and we planned for it.
We knew our vines would reap increasingly ripe grapes over time, and they did. We knew that some varieties of grapes would be able to thrive here that wouldn’t have 50 years ago, and they did.
But what we didn’t anticipate was double the amount of rainfall needed to grow fine wine grapes and seasons so volatile that they can cause entire crops to fail. As we’ve learned, those unpredictable seasons can mean anything from snowstorms in October to blooming florals in January.
However, no Mount Salem weather battle is quite as tough as when late spring cold spells attack our tender new shoots and leaves, which is after dormancy that protects vines from deep winter chills. Through the years, we’ve often been lucky, except for 2020. Two nights of below-freezing temperatures in May killed our new fruit, and cool temperatures continued to damage our June buds. Our crop was nearly completely gone.
How we’re moving forward
But even as the weather continues to be unpredictable, we’re learning to manage what once felt unmanageable. We choose sloped vineyard sites to let excess rain drain; grape varieties that are ideal for the changing weather; and we’ve learned how to make wine during hot, dry years and wet, cool years.
By no means are we the exception. Wineries all over the planet are doing just the same, as vineyards in Napa Valley are battling droughts so bad that they were irrigated with municipal wastewater, and other vineyards have been ruined by smoke from wildfires.
However, here on Mount Salem, we’ll continue to do the same as we’ve always done, despite the everchanging weather and climate change challenges – create fine, local wine.
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