Declining matsutake mushroom harvests due to climate change might not be of much concern to you, but when global warming starts coming for your wine, carpooling and solar panels suddenly don’t sound so bad.
-Justin Rohrlich, Vice News 
One of the major challenges facing the wine industry today is climate change. Wine grapes are notoriously finicky: differences of only one or two degrees can influence what varietals can be successfully grown in a particular location. Even different sides of the same hill are sometimes not suitable for growing the same varietal.
The Napa Valley Vinters Association (NVVA) is a nonprofit organization based in St. Helena, California whose mission is to “To promote, protect and enhance the Napa Valley appellation” . The NVVA covers numerous topics relevant to wine growers in Napa Valley, climate related issues included.
Current Steps Taken by The NVVA
The NVVA website breaks out climate related topics into two categories. The first category, “Environmental Issues”, covers how wineries in Napa Valley are doing their part to be green: “Vintners and growers are proactively working to address climate change through a variety of methods, including participation in Napa Green”, an environmental certification program for vineyards . A quick visit to the webpages of Napa wineries confirms this. For example, Robert Mondavi Winery’s website includes a “Sustainability & Community” page where it boasts that, “in 1998 [Mondavi] became the first winery to receive an ‘Innovator’ award from California’s Environmental Protection Agency” .
The second climate-related category on the NVVA website, “Climate Change”, opens with the line, “Since 2006, media outlets around the world have been saying that the global wine industry is doomed… While the news is titillating and makes for dramatic headlines that Napa’s famed wine industry is doomed, the headlines belie the fact that there is a lot that is unknown about climate change as it affects the wine industry and particularly Napa Valley” . While this seemingly flippant attitude distressed your author (as she sipped a glass of Napa wine), the NVVA did create a Climate Study Task Force in early 2011 which concluded that while Napa Valley has warmed slightly, it’s not as bad as some other studies claim. It also noted that Napa Valley is extremely unique in that it shares traits of both coastal and interior climates, so blanket studies of global warming and even warming in California do not necessarily reflect reality there . The NVVA concluded that farmers simply must adapt, as they always have for nearly two centuries.
Assessment of NVVA Actions to Date
While your author does not even for a moment question the inherent genius of Napa Valley winegrowers and their ability to produce and adapt, this is a new and serious challenge. According to the U.S. Forest Service, “Outcomes from this episode of climate change will differ from those of previous episodes in part because of interactions with environmental changes that humans have already caused – outcomes will be a cumulative effect” . In addition, as Kimberly Cahill pointed out in her Stanford University dissertation, “This starts to move outside a range where past experience is a good guide for what to do in the vineyard. Given that the average lifetime of a vine is at least 20 years in California, this means that vines in the ground now and those planted in the future will be experiencing new climate regimes that could affect their growth and quality” .
Given that the NVVA estimated in 2012 that the wine industry has a $13.3 billion impact on Napa County, creates 46,000 full time jobs there, and generates about $1.3 billion in state, local and federal taxes (not to mention an overall US economic impact of $50 billion), the current NVVA attitude that the wineries will adapt does not seem commensurate to the potential gravity of the situation . However, while it seems clear that there is room for the NVVA to make a positive impact by helping wineries to adapt to climate change, the fierce independence of growers will make this difficult: “Growers tend to respond to vineyard stresses individually rather than collectively, except in the case of severe and new pests and diseases” .
Addition Steps Worth Consideration
In order to live up to its goal of protecting the Napa Valley appellation, there are three steps the NVVA should take to help address the challenge of climate change. First, given the unique climate of Napa Valley, the NVVA should continue to independently monitor changes to stay as up to date as possible. Second, they should encourage growers to share key learnings and information on how changing climate has affected them. Third, given the region’s economic significance, the NVVA should work with the government of California to discuss the possibility of state funding directed towards helping growers develop solutions to problems they encounter related to climate change.
 30 October 2016. [Online]. Available: https://napavintners.com/about/.
 2 November 2016. [Online]. Available: https://www.robertmondaviwinery.com/Sustainable-Farming.
 D. Cayan et al., “Climate and Phenology in Napa Valley: A Compilation and Analysis of Historical Data,” 2011.
 L. &. T. Reid & Lisle, “Cumulative Effects and Climate Change,” U.S. Forest Service.
 K. N. Cahill, “Global Change in Local Places: Climate Change and the Future of the Wine Industry in Somona and Napa, California,” Stanford University, 2008.
 J. Rohrlich, “Climate Change Deniers Had Better Stop Drinking Wine,” 15 July 2014. [Online]. Available: https://news.vice.com/article/climate-change-deniers-had-better-stop-drinking-wine.