Global warming and the growing global appetite for wine have vineyards on the march.
As the climate in southern England warms to resemble that of France's Champagne region, British growers are cultivating grapes that make bubbly. Viniculturists are also setting up operations in remote parts of British Columbia and China. And in California, the booming wine industry is crawling out of warming valleys and edging toward the coast -- which is bad news for coastal ecosystems.
Areas suitable for vineyards in the world's major wine-producing regions could shrink between 19 and 73 percent by 2050, according to a study published in April in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers say growers will look for new lands on which to plant their vines, razing wild areas in their wine-making quests.
"Climate change may cause establishment of vineyards at higher elevations," the scientists wrote. That "may lead to conversion of natural vegetation."
And so it is in California's Sonoma County, where environmentalists are fighting in court to prevent a Spanish winemaker from leveling 154 acres with coast redwoods and Douglas firs to make space for new grapevines. NPR reports:
Redwoods only grow in the relatively cool coastal region of Northern California and southern Oregon. Parts of this range, such as northwestern Sonoma County, have become increasingly coveted by winemakers.