California’s wine grape growers will face increasing challenges under a changing climate as most production occurs near the boundaries of current varieties’ climatic thresholds. As part of this study, we developed a method for transforming downscaled climate information from the publicly available Cal-Adapt database into useful and useable climate projections for vineyard managers and advisors in the Paso Robles American Viticultural Area. We shared vineyard-specific projections during interviews of 20 managers and advisors.
Overall, interviewees expressed trust in the projections and found them helpful in reducing their psychological distance from climate change. The projections prompted consideration of strategies for managing future climate risk and planning adaptation, with the majority of adaptations associated with long-term decisions such as row orientation, variety selection, dry farming, crop diversification and relocation.
Agri-climatic decision support tools such as the one prototyped here may prove especially helpful for incorporating climate adaptation into the long-term business planning and vineyard redevelopment decisions facing managers and advisors in the near future. This approach could be extended to other California wine grape regions or to other perennial crops with expected vulnerabilities to climate change.