North Coast grape growers optimistic on climate

North Coast grape growers say they take climate change seriously, but they remain optimistic about finding ways to produce premium crops should temperatures rise as much as a new study suggests.

The study, the latest in a decade of such research, predicts parts of the Rocky Mountain region could become suitable for growing wine grapes by 2050, even as large swaths of California vineyards decline in productivity.

But growers in Sonoma and Napa counties maintain that the region's proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the work of grapevine researchers and the adaptability of farmers will help prevent the demise of Wine Country.

"Do I think in the next three or four decades that grapes will disappear in Sonoma County?" Sonoma County Wine Grape Commission President Nick Frey asked Thursday. "No, I don't."

Jon Ruel, president of the Napa Valley Grape Growers, said studies often don't account for the natural ability of farmers and wine producers to adjust their techniques to match climate change.

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