Ok, so a heat wave or two does not necessarily constitute global warning (or whatever you want to call it).
Still, after eight days (or nine, or 10, or whatever) of scorching heat in California and much of the country, with no let-up in sight, it was easy to buy into the argument that indeed planet Earth is getting hotter.
Frankly, it’s been as hot in Napa Valley as I can remember since moving here in 1978.
And frankly, if summers were always this hot, I wouldn’t live in Napa Valley.
On Saturday, the temperature at my house hit 110 degrees F, and even at 9 p.m., it was still 95.
On Sunday, at 5 p.m., it was 113.
The past two nights the overnight temperature dropped to 75. Usually it's closer to 50.
What’s missing are those cooling breezes that blow off the San Pablo Bay through Carneros. Or over the hills from the Pacific Ocean.
What’s missing is the fog that usually rolls in from the bay or ocean to give us cool overcast mornings, while we wait for the sun to arrive.
What’s missing is the good old-fashioned, traditional three-day heat wave. It’s usually three and out along the Northern California coast. By the third day of 90 to 100 degree days, the winds usually kick in, bringing with them the fog.
What does all this mean for North Coast grapes, or any grapes baking in the heat?
In some ways grapes are like people. It gets too hot, and they need water.
It gets too hot, and they sunburn. Your skin gets tough when you burn and so do grape skins.
It gets too hot, and we don’t want to do anything and neither do grapes.
Growers say the vines “shut down” once the temperatures get too hot – usually in the 90s. So do most of us.
Last week, when I talked with a couple of vineyard managers, they were lamenting the searing heat. The grapes, which were off to a slow start due to a wet, cool spring, are stalled. So far, no veraison, the process when black grape varieties start to color and soften, an indicator that harvest is on the horizon, usually in around 60 days.
From what I can tell, heat like this doesn’t benefit the grapes. It just stuns them.
So we are all – grapes included -- waiting for a change in weather.
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — July 24, 2006 1:09pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — July 24, 2006 1:15pm ET
Karl Mark — Geneva, IL. — July 24, 2006 1:31pm ET
Jean Luc Le Du — July 24, 2006 1:38pm ET
Larry Schaffer — Central Coast — July 24, 2006 2:56pm ET
Trey Rolofson — Overland Park, KS — July 24, 2006 4:11pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — July 24, 2006 5:14pm ET
Anacleto Ludovic — paris france — July 24, 2006 5:59pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — July 24, 2006 6:02pm ET
Peter J Rafert — July 25, 2006 4:17am ET
William Newell — Buffalo, NY — July 25, 2006 11:38am ET
Mark Mccullough — GA — July 25, 2006 1:49pm ET
Apj Powers — Dallas, TX — July 25, 2006 2:07pm ET
John W Graham Iii — Richmond VA — July 25, 2006 6:58pm ET
Adam Lee — Santa Rosa, CA — July 26, 2006 5:21am ET
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